Thanks to fellow blogger Natalie at The Hot Goddess, I recently learned that July 30 is International Friendship Day this year. That was yesterday! International Friendship Day is designated by the UN General Assembly as a day to celebrate those friendships that we hold close and to give thanks for these relationships that are so important in our lives, which bring happiness and comfort. With that special date in mind, if there had to be a funeral of a very close, very long-time friend, it certainly was fitting that it took place on International Friendship Day.
My husband and I – and our friends – have reached the age where these sad events are inevitable; they come with increasing frequency. Comfort does come with remembering the contributions a departed friend has made to your life and to the life of others, it really does. A life well lived. That was certainly the case with the dear friend whose life we’ve mourned and celebrated the past few days. Those remembrances of fun times, of shared times, and of so many acts of kindness are a tonic to our sadness.
This friend we’ve just lost has been a permanent fixture in our lives for a little more than 50 years. We met as new Moms when our firstborns were 6 months old. They’re older now! And their brothers, who were born 3 years later, have been friends since birth. The remarkable thing is that although none of those boys (all right, men) stayed in their home town after graduation, they’ve remained close friends throughout. Very close. Friends for life. And the younger sons live in the same town, so their children also know each other well. Three generations of friendships.
As I sat in the church pew yesterday – on International Friendship Day – I spent a lot of time thinking about this long history of close, close bonds between and among the three generations of our families. I watched the family, seated in the front pew a few rows ahead of us, as they comforted and supported each other in their grief, and thought of all those years of shared experiences, shared concerns, shared sorrows, and shared celebrations – of weddings, of new babies and grandbabies, of new jobs, of shared holidays and travels. I thought of other families sitting nearby with whom we’ve also been close friends for decades. All there to honour the life of our friend. There with their kids, who we’ve known throughout their lives, many of whom are greying now and have brought their own kids. The strength of all those bonds of friendship, in our case over a very long time, has brought a richness to all our lives. It strikes me that this is the very essence of what International Friendship Day is meant to be about.
One of the activities recommended to do with kids on International Friendship Day is to discuss what makes a friend. What a great activity. I’m going to give it a try from my perspective as an old person; my guess is that the answers are pretty well the same regardless of age.
- A friend is someone you can count on, someone you can trust. They’re always there for you.
- A friend is someone who understands you and respects that you don’t always have to agree or always like the same thing.
- A friend is someone you really like doing things with. Sometimes just talking. Or just listening.
- A friend is someone you can fight with sometimes but you always make up.
- A friend is someone who’ll stick up for you.
- Friendships grow stronger and stronger from shared experiences, in both good times and bad.
Did I miss anything?
There is little in life more important to our emotional well-being that having a friend. Reach out to someone with the hand of friendship; that’s what Louise would do.