Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
A little while back, a delivery of fresh cut flowers arrived. It was from a friend with a note to say she was thinking of us and wished us well for the approaching holidays. I was touched by her thoughtfulness and grateful for our friendship.
Friends surprise us in the most delightful ways.
They also act as an anchor in our lives. In challenging times, we need our friends more than ever. To be there for each other. COVID-19 is re-defining how that happens, but no virus can diminish the need for connection. If anything, the need has been amplified.
For those of us blessed with good friends (you don’t need a ton, just a few), this is nothing new. In fact, the friendships we share with other women become increasingly significant in our lives. It has little to do with how loving and devoted your partner, children, and all near and distant relatives may be. We need our women friends. They are with us through the good times and bad. And sometimes they save us from ourselves in ways only we know.
My mother had a circle of women friends and she took the time to nurture those friendships throughout her life. I recall a close and long-time friend of hers, recounting the phone conversations she and my mother shared about handling difficulties and the ups and downs of family life. It was “psychiatry by phone,” she said, and it got us through. They were there for each other.
My mother understood the power of friendships with other women and she tried to impart that knowing to me. On more than one occasion, she reminded me during my teenage years that boyfriends were fine, but I should not forget my girlfriends. They last longer, she said.
What she meant is that friendships need our time and energy and commitment. Family is always with you in one way or another. Friends are a decision. A decision to engage in a reciprocal relationship that may ask much of us but which we give freely.
Friends matter at all ages, but ageing marks a shift in where friends stand within our sphere of connections. Relationships with friends become more central in our lives in a way that doesn’t diminish the importance of family, but rather occupies a different place in our hearts.
What brings about this shift? For one thing, we have more time now that the demands of family life have lessened. Work outside the home may have stopped. We can catch our breath and spend time with friends instead of doing everything on the fly. Time and space allow connections to strengthen.
And yet, it’s more than that. Women’s shared experiences and understanding of what it’s like to navigate life’s struggles, often shaped by gender, bring us together in ways that uphold and sustain. Friends are a form of social nourishment that counter feelings of vulnerability and feed the soul. They help us choose love over fear.
It’s tough to fully capture the facets of women’s friendship, but here are a few that come to mind. I’m sure you can think of more.
- Much can be expressed with very few words. Much can be expressed fully and freely.
- Friends can be with us in silence bearing witness to whatever we are going through.
- We share a wickedly wonderful sense of humour! We laugh together.
- Concrete and practical help is there when you need it.
- There’s an understanding of the multiple ways of knowing that inform what we do.
- Friends tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. Many ask the questions we need to ask ourselves.
- They listen with love and compassion and crucially, without judgment, regardless of whether we sound incoherent, unreasonable, and undeserving.
- Friends are a repository of extraordinary talent, wisdom, and abilities, even though they, and others, may take it for granted.
- When you’re going through a rough or challenging time, friends are with you- there to hold your hand to provide comfort, even if they’re far away.
In short, friends have your back.
We need our friends. We really do. Deep abiding friendships enable us to endure and thrive in a world that doesn’t fully understand, or appreciate, women as they get older.
May we always cherish our friendships- remembering they last a long time.
Hallelujah- Girls Choir
Saying Thank You….
…to those who are doing so much during this time and on whom we depend every day. Many were hardly noticed before this Pandemic. Many are paid the least. Many are women. Hopefully, in the time of reckoning we’ll decide to pay everyone a fair and living wage. That would be life changing.
The Pandemic has brought out the best in people. It has also exposed the cracks in society that have been ignored for some time. The elderly, the poor, vulnerable children, individuals living on the margins who are struggling to get by -and as we have witnessed recently, those living and working in long term care. They need us and we need them.
Let’s fix the cracks. Somehow along the way, we forgot that we’re all in this together.
Sam Roberts Band- We’re All in This Together
This post is dedicated to my women friends- gems in my life who make all the difference.