When my mum was growing up she met two friends.
Well actually no, that is not true, she met three friends Auntie Beverley, Auntie Mary and Uncle Dave. She met them way back when in yester year, when they were all studying to become nurses. They had the best of times and the best of laughs and they became the very best of friends. Of course they are not really our Aunties and Uncle in blood but they might as well be related, because somehow along the way they have become family.
True friendship lasts a lifetime.
When my mum had my sister she was a young single mum, and my Auntie Mary and Auntie Beverley gave her all the support that she needed as her best friends, and then some. We would always go to visit and we played for hours with their children Sara, Katy, Matt and Jade who we grew up with us like siblings. Over the years we have all shared the lovely memories of Bonfire nights and New Year’s Eve, we have shared great sadness when Uncle Dave passed away, and great happiness when his grandson was born not long afterwards. The next generation of grandchildren now play together and will be lifelong friends too, that I am absolutely sure of.
Over the past year I have really had a think about what friendship is. Do we really need to qualify it for it to be true?
I would have said that I was so lucky to meet the best set of girls at University that are my own lifelong friends. I am finding recently that each time they announce a new engagement or pregnancy I feel all puffed up and proud, I get teary, and overwhelmed that they are finally finding the happiness that they deserve.
And yet some things have surprised me too over the past year. There was I, thinking that I knew most things, thinking that I had seen it all, and then the tidal wave of cancer hit and it changed everything that I knew to be true. I have made friends in the most unlikely of places it seems.
Perhaps it is just me? Perhaps I have made friendships in spite of it all, or because of it all.
I have made new friends. Those who I have never met (I never thought this to be possible) and yet it seems that it is possible to be a kind of modern day ‘pen friend’ with people I have discovered. Sarah, Allie and Rosemary have kept me smiling for months now and through some very difficult days. I have made friends over the past year that I know will be friends for life, despite having known them for only a short time.
As a mum, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain friendship with others, no matter how much you feel about them. Everyday seems to be filled with long lists of things that need to be done and the reality is that picking up the phone for a short conversation is unlikely, along with grabbing something to eat or going to the toilet. The job of a mum is a busy one, and the days just all seem roll into one.
True friends don’t need to see each other to know that they are there
– like stars I suppose.
And the thing that I love about friendship, is that it seems to be passed down through the generations. I consider myself to be trustworthy and loyal and I hope that as my own children grow up they too develop these traits. No doubt it will be hard to watch them make and break friendships over the years, but I am sure that they will settle into the same happiness that we have found. I really hope that I will be there to be the ‘shoulder to cry on’ for the days that do not go quite ‘to plan’ or even on the day that their heart is broken for the first time.
All these hopes and wishes I have for my own children – not knowing if they will ever come true.
More than anything, it seems that our siblings are our best friends (and cousins in my case). I come from a family of three girls and my husband, a family of three boys. Our brothers and sisters are our very best friends. The ones who drive us crazy in an instant, annoy us like only a sibling can and yet they will still be there when the chips are down.
After a few weeks of illness (the chickenpox, and therefore serious lack of sleep) I can honestly say that my heart melted when I woke up one morning and checked in on the children, only to find them in bed together cuddled up and asleep.
They are, and always will be the very best of friends and if I give them nothing else in life I know that I gave them that.