I am blessed with the most amazing friends. Sitting at the dining room table drinking wine friends; Checking up on me even when I say I’m okay friends; Dragging me out to lunch when I don’t want to get dressed friends.
The love and support I get from my friends comes as no surprise to me. I know how wonderful they are, I’ve always known how wonderful they are, and I try to appreciate them every day. It’s my friends who remind me who I am, and tell me when I’m too much. My friends ground me and define me and challenge me to be better.
Throughout the years, my fondest memories have been the smallest moments with my closest friends. Sitting in the kitchen listening to 80s music, playing games in the yard ’til you can’t see the target, pizza nights and barbecues and lots of salted cured meats. And, sometimes, nursing a drink at the bar ’til it’s time to go home.
We’ve been through it all together. The birth of our children, weddings, and birthdays, and tragedies and sickness. When Ed was diagnosed with cancer, our friends were everywhere. We were never alone and never got stuck isolated with our fear and anger. Friends were our lifeline to joy of laughter, they dragged us back to normal.
It hasn’t always been fun. It’s not always easy to be there for each other, but we work through it. As one dear friend once said, “Honey, you don’t choose family.” And that’s what my friends are to me. Family. Ugly, and messy, and sometimes intolerable; but still family. Who else would hold your hair, or make a big ziti casserole for you, or care for your children.
Betrayal is a funny word. It’s a big, dramatic, telenovela kind of word. A word that shouldn’t be thrown around lightly. So, what happens when a friend betrays you. Not a “have a drink at the bar” kind of friend, that’s one thing. But when, a “friend who’s family” betrays you, how do you recover from that hurt? What does that mean for your relationships? How do you know how to move forward?
As a parent and mentor, everything’s a teachable moment. But, what can you learn from this? To never trust anyone, to never love again? That’s just a bit morbid, a bit too sad, a bit (dare I say) pathetic. Maybe I am too trusting, maybe I foolishly believe there’s good in everyone, maybe I’m wrong. Should I teach my children to be hard and private and cold? Oh god no, what kind of life is that? But, then what? What is the message; the take away?
If one person can disappoint you and hurt you so badly, what then of all those people who have been a surprise? The ex-student who texts you to make sure you’re okay; The colleague who picks up the phone just to say that you’re missed; The friends who have gotten busy over time, but just know when you need them. Maybe that’s the take away. If hurt people hurt people also remember that open hearts open hearts.
That for every person that betrays you, there are ten who love you unexpectedly. It’s those unexpected moments of kindness that carry you through. A smile, or a touch, or a simple text reminding you that you are loved. The lesson is that love comes not only in the largest of gestures, but also in the smallest of ways. The lesson is to build a family around you that is focused on love unconditionally, with no rules, no limits, and no fears.