Amy and I met at summer camp when we were kids, not much older than my daughter is now. I was shy and introverted, she was outgoing and popular. But somehow, we became – and stayed – friends over the years. Even though our lives took different paths, there was still a connection. Today, I found out Amy lost her year-long battle with cancer. I will never hear the smile in her voice, see her Facebook posts or text her again. It’s made me realize:
You can’t put a price on friendship.
Friends don’t always have to see eye-to-eye. Amy and I had differing political views. Religion meant different things to us. But there was a respect for our differences, not judgment. We were friends and that’s all that mattered.
Friends go out of their way for each other. Soon after I’d moved to Los Angeles, my sister had a computer she was able to give to me. Amy met her at the airport and lugged that heavy thing all the way to L.A. I was so grateful – and I would’ve done the same for her.
Friends don’t let friends go out of the house with crimped hair. Unless it’s the 80s and that’s in style. We thought we looked terrific. And maybe we did. (But the acid-washed jeans? That’s just shameful.)
Friends don’t always travel the same paths at the same time. Amy got married three years out of college whereas I, being a late bloomer, would never have been ready for a serious relationship at 23. She had children at a younger age than I did. When I had my son at 36, she and her husband came out to visit me in sunny California and we picked up right where we left off, like time had never passed.
Friends are there for the bad stuff. When Amy’s marriage fell apart, it was traumatizing for her. I remember asking her questions, but most of all listening. She’d lost everything. Her husband, her home… her heart was broken. I can’t help but wonder if this life-changing event is what triggered her cancer.
Friends are there when it gets even worse. I don’t know what the statistics are, but it is not uncommon for friends and love ones to “disappear” once there is a cancer diagnosis. Some people just “can’t handle it.” To me, that is unconscionable. So I was determined to be there for her in any way I could. Because we lived in different states, I was not one of the friends who could bring over home-cooked meals (I’m not much of a cook anyway) or drive her to doctor’s appointments. But I sent her care packages and loving messages whenever I could, and she was always in my thoughts. And I was so grateful that she allowed me, and others, to be part of her cancer “journey” (for lack of a better word). Sharing this roller coaster ride with her was a gift. I’m so glad she did not shut us out but let us experienced this with her and be express to her how much she was loved.
Friends listen to their friend’s wishes. Amy was diagnosed with colon cancer at an age when colonoscopies are not yet recommended. It was her urgent wish that her friends have this procedure done. As much as I dreaded it, I scheduled a colonoscopy. And when I was on the hospital bed panicking, frightened, afraid of being put under, Amy was there for me. She was the one with colon cancer, but she was there for me.
Friends never forget. Or maybe that’s elephants. But I will never forget Amy. And I feel compelled to appreciate the other friends in my life, the ones that are still here, the ones I take for granted – assuming they will always be here. Life is short. Go call, email, text or meet up with a friend. Let go of your differences and embrace the friendship, for it is invaluable.
What do you value most in your friendships?