“Best Friendship,” column for Jan. 14, 2014

Everybody should have at least one best friend. You can have several, if you want. There’s no limit on best friendship. But if you can find and make and keep at least one, consider yourself blessed.

I thought of that yesterday as I waved goodbye after spending almost six hours with Linda.

It was her birthday. Actually, it was a day late, but that was the soonest we could get together. With best friends, you celebrate whenever you can, not just according to the calendar.

I’d been traveling, gone more than not, for several months. We had been in touch by email, but email is never the same as talking face to face, and heart to heart, especially when your heart is broken.

While I was away, Linda lost her mom. She was 80-some years old, but forever young at heart, and they had been best friends forever. This would be Linda’s first birthday without the one person who had loved her unconditionally, come what may, every day of her life.

I wanted to give her a really good gift, the one I always want most from people I love: Time.

So we started with a two-hour lunch, followed by a two-hour movie, followed by a post-movie debriefing for two hours more.

It worked like this. We spent the first two hours catching up over lunch. With best friends, there’s always plenty to catch up on, especially after three months, or even three days, apart. We talked fast and barely made a dent in it.

Then we went to see “August: Osage County.” It stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and one of my all-time favorite actors, Chris Cooper, in one of my all-time favorite roles. But all things considered, it might not have been the best choice for a birthday celebration.

Briefly, I’ll say this. It’s no comedy. It’s the story of a family not so different from mine or maybe yours, dealing with a father’s suicide, a mother’s cancer and drug addiction, and the problems of their three grievously afflicted daughters.

We loved it. Linda kept handing me Kleenex. Unlike me, she’s the kind of best friend who comes prepared for the worst.

Afterwards, we had planned to go home our separate ways, but we decided we needed more time. So we went back to the place we’d had lunch and settled in for a couple of more hours.

We talked about families _ the one in the film and those of our own; what our lives were like growing up; how we tried to raise our children; and the kind of roles we want to play in their lives now that they’re grown.

We talked about growing old, and laughed to admit that while we often pray for the strength to age gracefully, some days all we really want is a facelift.

That’s a best friend for you. You can tell her almost anything and she’ll say you’re not crazy, because she feels the same way.

Basically, we talked about everything and nothing; listened closely to each other, to all we said and didn’t say; and solved, if not all the problems of the world, at least a few of our own.

Then we parted with a promise to get together again soon. That’s what best friends do.

I’ve been blessed with a wealth of best friends, some I’ve kept for much of my life and some I’ve lost along the way, but not one that I ever truly deserved.

If you ask them, they’ll tell you. I don’t keep in touch the way I should. I hate to talk on the phone. I often forget to return messages. I even forget their birthdays. In fact, I might have missed Linda’s, if my husband hadn’t spotted it on the calendar and reminded me.

But lucky for me, and maybe for you, the best thing about a best friend is this: You don’t need to be deserving.

Best friendship is like grace _ a gift, free and clear. And every day is your birthday.

Comments

  1. Cheri Pogue says:

    What a wonderful commentary on ‘best friendship’! I’ve recently moved 4.5 hours away from a place that I called home for 17 years. I have one friend in particular that fits the best friend moniker. She is never too busy to chat, text, email, visit …. despite having two children in need of her attention. Did I mention that we had been apart for six years while her husband persued his career? At one point, she was in a country that sporadically shut down the Internet! But our friendship endured. Your words affirmed my desire to hold on to this precious relationship. Thanks!

  2. Jeanne Chapkovich says:

    Sharon
    Thanks so much for your Sunday column (read in the Naples Daily News) on best friendships. As a 60-something retiree, I value nothing more than my best girlfriend friendships, some of which go back to kindergarten (do the math!). You accurately described exactly how our get together a go…talk, talk, talk, some wine, a nice lunch or dinner, more wine, talk, talk, talk. Our husbands would tell you at each meeting it’s as if we never stopped talking. We seemlessly pick up where we last left off, parents, health, kids, grandkids, work/retirement. I love every chance to remember birthdays, anniversaries, or just encouragement or cheer cards. At our age (or any age) what could be more important than spending time with those we love? Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am in FL for part of the winter, and away from my northeast friends, but I will be sharing your column with them and continue to read your column online.
    Thank you! Jeanne

  3. Reeta Sicilian says:

    Your article is always my favorite on Sunday morning in the Naples News, Naples, Florida. Your recent article 1/19/14, “Best-friendship the best of gifts” had special meaning. Two days prior I had lunch here in Florida with three other old friends—-we have know each other for over 50 years!!! Three of us live 1200 miles away in Ohio part of the year. The fourth is a Florida resident. It doesn’t matter, we have these long lunches or dinners an catch up on our lives in the past months. Emails & cellphones keep us in touch throughout the year. I am sending each of them a copy of your article, along with your website address. I know they will feel the same about each of your articles, I can’t wait to read every Sunday morning with my first cup of coffee….

  4. Judy Lanman says:

    This article describes my best friendship with my best friend. We use to live in the same town, but I moved a 150 miles away. We try to meet halfway a couple times of year, but with active teenagers in the house, it’s not always easy. She is still the first person I call everyday after 12 years. I do feel like I’ve won the lottery everyday.

  5. Alice Anderson says:

    Hi, Best Friend. I do feel like that and really appreciated your column, a personal message as far as I’m concerned. I’m having a difficult time giving up so many things , friends who complete their earthly life, activities that seem to come in bunches. So far, I’ve managed to hang on to my sense of humor because old age is really a fun…y time! Then when I begin counting my blessings and taking trips back in time, I can’t sleep. I’m told,. SLEEP is renewal time for body and soul. Sorry, I’m actually enjoying my long journey. I will sleep another time…..perhaps after I have my 93 birthday. Love you, my Rose- a-Sharon. Alicemarieeee from Tennessee.

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