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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’


In March of 2012 I wrote about connecting with people. How by some mysterious force, we are drawn to someone and find a connection. I’ve had a couple of new experiences in this past year, in spite of my limited movements within the outside world.

An old business associate of nearly 40 years, turned friend, emailed me about an alumnus of her college. Did I want to meet her? She had recently moved to my town, shared my religion and knew no one here. She wanted to get involved in her new community and my friend thought we would hit it off. I trust this friend; she knows me well. So of course I said yes. Explaining to this stranger my limited outings, unpredictable medical limitations and inability to eat like a normal person, I suggested lunch at my house. Conversation came easily and we discovered some additional mutual friends and interests. We share political views so there was much fodder for conversation and potential action. The relationship quickly turned into a familiar, comfortable friendship, one I am so grateful for.

On another occasion, the search for someone to do alterations led me to a woman from a neighboring town. She is the mother of a lady in my town, who I know only through the Facebook page our town’s ladies belong to. She was kind enough to come to my house so I could try on the clothes. There was something special about her and she felt the same. She too joined me for lunch soon after and I have been to her home to drop off or pick up more things she has sewed for me. We are on a “hug and kiss greeting” basis and express an affinity for one another like we’ve been friends for so long.

My therapist tells me I am blessed with the ability to make friends easily. I would have to agree. But I attribute it to my father and his mother who also had many friends due to their ability to talk to anyone about something they could find in common.

My life is so enriched by this gift. Some people’s involvement in my life have endured decades and many challenges; some have come and gone in short order. I’ve relished each friendship for its uniqueness and rich dimension they have brought to my life.

I’m a lucky woman.

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I know from experience (my own included) that if you were to judge someone’s state of happiness by their FB posts, you would often get a very distorted sense of reality.

We are told to “put our best foot forward,” “soldier on,” “keep a stiff upper lip,” “practice gratitude,” etc., etc. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it doesn’t allow us the true freedom to share our challenges, sadness, anxiety, etc. In spite of all the public discourse on depression, we are still not good as a society, in recognizing or treating it. Not everyone presents with the same symptoms – in fact, many cover it with a mask of cheeriness. Drugs are widely available to treat it – it’s fast and cheap – as opposed to talking about and resolving issues that need to be processed.  But sometimes things need to be faced head on, not temporarily blunted.

As is evidenced by all the shootings and general chaos, especially among our young and veterans, we are not, as a society, attending to mental health care needs. Unattended, things get worse. More turmoil creates more societal anxiety and a downward spiral of the individual.

Some have suggested that global meditation and/or yoga practice would reduce stress, creating a calm over the earth. It’s an interesting idea. It would cost less than other modes of treatment and have fewer side effects than medication. It would address the shortage of skilled mental health practitioners as it could treat groups, not just individuals. It could ultimate lower healthcare costs and reduce violence.

But I digress. The point of this article is to ask that  you remain vigilant to the signs of stress that may cause those you love to break. If they are behaving differently than usual, there is probably a reason. Offer a hand – even if it is just to lead them to get the help they need.

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Aging is not for sissies. I’m not talking about those pesky aches and pains. By far, the hardest thing to bear is the increasing frequency of loss.

Last week, a dear friend passed away after a relatively short battle with cancer. I saw him just two weeks before he died and I knew the end was near. We did not speak of goodbyes, but I knew this was ours. He seemed most tortured by the knowledge that he was going to die soon. He wanted it to be over; the sooner, the better. I can imagine how it must have felt to just sit and wait for death to come. Knowing you don’t have time to accomplish anything; you just wait.

My husband and I visited with his family the day after the funeral. As is customary during shiva (the Jewish custom of receiving visitors for up to a week after the burial), there was more laughter than tears. Humor was a large part of this family’s dynamic and it has been passed down to two subsequent generations.

My friends’ home is filled with his presence. An artist, he has created magnificent works that stand inside and outside his home. His immortality is in each and every one of them. He inspired me to indulge my need to create art. We spoke of it whenever we were together.

I boldly asked his wife if I might have one of his sculpting tools – not that I needed any, but I believe when I use it, his soul will inform my work.

So here’s to you my dear friend. May you be at peace. May your spirit continue to live in your beloved family and friends. Watch over us and continue to inspire us through the legacy of your family and your amazing works of art.

You loved and were loved by many people. A great tribute indeed.

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I’ve written about change. How it is inevitable. That we must adapt or perish. And I even like it that way. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish it would pause for a little longer, so we could relish it when it’s really good.
Parents feel this when they notice their little boy is suddenly more independent – or leaves for college – or moves into his own home. We wanted this, we aspired to this, but the reality is bittersweet.
We feel this when we suffer loss – of a dream, of an ideal, of innocence. But usually a better situation emerges, and we grow. But the loss of people we love does not work this way. The loss leaves a hole they inhabited in our hearts. Their uniqueness can never be replaced. We can move on, love other people, live good lives, but it will always be without them, and forever altered.
I feel this coming once again, as I face losing a dear friend. A friend introduced to me by an old boyfriend, yet the friendship remained through new marriages, losses, remarriage and children. A friend who inspired me to nurture my art talents, who encouraged my work and who has shared his own family with me. A man who made me laugh until my sides split, who did outrageous things do inspire that laughter. A man who accumulated a cadre of lifelong friends who love him because he has enough love for all of us.
He isn’t up to the throngs of visitors who want to share his last weeks or months with him. And his family needs to be with him. I respect that. But I am already beginning to mourn the loss, since he is slipping away.
I will honor his memory by continuing to pursue my art and staying connected with his family, who I also love deeply. But I will miss my friend – always. I can only hope his last days are filled with love, beautiful words shared among his friends and family. And I wish for his family, strength and courage in the coming years without him.

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The power of friendship cannot be underestimated. Particularly among women. I am always humbled by the great gift I have had in these friendships. Each person, or group with its own dynamics, has the restorative power of an antidepressant.

I have been hanging out with a group of ladies (you know who you are) over the past years: with husbands, without husbands, with families, without the kids. We were blessed that all configurations enjoyed each other at different times and for different occasions. We have shared our children’s stories, helped each other when the times got rough and celebrated the happy occasions together.

We used to get together regularly, for birthdays, or just because. Our husbands saw the value in this and began doing this with each other. Slowly our get togethers dwindled: some went to work, some to school, some were just not up to it. Whatever the reason, I have missed those regular get togethers. They were rejuvenating and precious.

We got together last week at someone’s home to celebrate 3 birthdays. We talked about everything from Brazilian waxes to road rage to camel toe (look that one up). But mostly, we let loose, laughing hard and loudly until tears ran down our faces. For the next few days, fueled by the kinship and love we share, I have been calm and content. It’s the medicine we need as human beings – to connect with others we trust and to be able to be yourself. Laughter has its own reward, with healthy physiological changes demonstrated in many studies.

Before we left we put another date on our calendars – while we were all there and basking in the glow of our friendships. I am looking forward to my monthly “medicine” to cure the ills of daily stress and isolation. I love you all and thank you for blessing me with your friendship.

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