My father has always given me the best advice. I remember once, when I was in high school, and I had begun a relationship with my first boyfriend. I was on the phone with one of my friends and I was breaking plans with her so that I could be with my boyfriend. My dad overheard my conversation and when I hung up, he said something to me that I’ll never forget. He said, “Don’t ever put your boyfriend before your friends. They’ve been your friends for a long time and they’ll always be there. If you keep blowing them off you’ll ruin your friendships. Then you two will break up, and you’ll be alone. You’ll have no one. Your boyfriends will come and go. Your friends are forever.” He was basically the first Chicks Before Dicks mantra. You’re welcome, world. But seriously, that struck me. And I realized that he was right. And over the years, as my relationships, my first marriage, my jobs, my illnesses, have crumbled, come, and eventually gone, the people still standing there, holding me up, are my friends.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve been blessed with several incredible women who have been by my side for most of my life. My friendships with them have lasted 10, 20, 30 years. Some of these friendships ebb and flow like the tide. They come in and out of my life depending on circumstances. Where we live. What’s happening in our lives. Sometimes we go awhile without seeing one another or talking. We are kept abreast, of course, through Facebook. But even before Facebook, (yes, I am of the age where I existed before the internet), we had an unbreakable bond.
It doesn’t seem to matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other. When we are together, it’s as if no time has passed. Our bonds are so strong that it’s more akin to family than friendship. We can read one another’s expression, voice, body language. We say the same things at the same time. I even once had a friend go on a type of birth control that stopped her periods. It also stopped MY period. I was miserable, so she went off of that version for me.
These are the people I know I can call – anytime, any hour, and they will be there. It won’t matter how long it’s been, or what they are doing. They will drop it and be there for me. Just as I will drop everything and be there for them. These friendships are gifts. They are miracles. Finding people who love you, who will put up with you, who will forgive you, who won’t judge you – it’s an incredible thing. And the fact that I’ve found so many women like that? It really does make me feel like I have been given a most precious gift.
These are the type of friendships that even outlast my dad’s advice. Because we know that a new relationship can be all consuming. And we allow one another that time. We know that children are all-consuming, and we allow one another that time. Even my friends who have chosen not to have children are still welcoming of mine and call themselves Auntie and love them as their own. They know I can’t go anywhere or do anything right now, and so, they come to me.
This isn’t to say that your partner or spouse isn’t important or isn’t all of these things as well. They are. Or, at least, they should be. It just means that you can have more than one person to count on.
Recognize when these people enter your life. You will know. You will meet them and somehow just “click.” You will feel as though you’ve always known them. You may feel as though you’ve met them before. And your bond might be instant. It might come in time. But when it happens, acknowledge it. Then grab onto it and nurture it and cherish it. Because those are your people. They are the loves of your life. They will be there to laugh and celebrate with you, to pick you up when you fall, to forgive your mistakes, and to hold your hand when you’re afraid. They will be one of the most incredible gifts of your life.