Friendship Matters

Published March 17, 2015
Once I was in a gigantic slump and my friend, Susan, came to my house to comfort me. We laugh now, looking back, that my child’s Magic 8 Ball was the only solution she could offer. I held the ball in my hands, hopeful. Q: Will everything work out? A: Hazy, try again later. “Well, do it again,” Susan said. “Don’t give up.” Q: Will this misery pass? A: Don’t count on it. Q: No, I mean will it eventually pass? A: Very doubtful. But Susan held strong. “Shake it up. Try again.” Susan is not Kim. Kim is a psychotherapist, and other best friend. Kim believes in talk-therapy. She would’ve listened, less solution focused. Empathetic, she would’ve had tears in her eyes too, and begged for a turn with the 8- Ball. Susan is not Pam. Pam would’ve wanted to get my mind off things. She would’ve wanted me to stay busy. She would’ve suggested a trip into Manhattan, a couple of drinks, shopping. I shook the ball again and prayed for a proper outcome. Q: Will I feel better soon? A: Cannot predict now. Susan sat next to me as I overturned the ball again and again until... Q: Will I feel better? A: Most likely. My friendships are dear to me. Essential. And so I was disheartened to read that friendships are fading. In a Harvard Medical School study, researchers found that not having close friends leads to increased stress hormones and blood pressure; and it could be as detrimental to your health as smoking. Not having close friends leads to feelings of isolation, depression and emptiness. So it is a shame that we don’t always have the time to nurture these relationships. Or we don’t make the time. (See this article from The New York Times: What My Friends Mean to Me.) My friends tease me that when they call, I treat them like telemarketers, which of course, I think is totally untrue. And this is because of what is true, which is that they mean the world to me. These are friendships that go back decades and whether we are being as adventurous as Thelma and Louise or as kooky as Lucy and Ethel, we have been there for each other through all of life’s challenges: problems with our kids, marital discord, divorce, bouts of cancer, financial issues, and even losing a spouse. These are things the Magic 8 Ball can’t fix. But a friend sitting next to you on your couch, as you cry, a Magic 8 Ball in your hands, while you make up outrageous questions to ask it—loony enough to make you laugh—even when it was the last thing you could imagine doing. That could fix things. Q: Will these friendships last forever? A: It is certain.  

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.

“Yes, Piglet?”

“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

 -A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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