Friendship: It’s Not Complicated
Come summertime something magical will occur. It’s something that is out of the ordinary especially when women are involved, but perhaps shouldn’t be. I was clued in weeks ago, when I received a call about four women. Ms. Leona Barnes, Ms. Gladys Butler, Ms. Ruth Hammett and Ms. Bernice Underwood are childhood friends from right here in the District of Columbia. In the summer they will all turn 100-years-old.
Ms. Elaine Saunders, who I spoke to on the phone, gave me some background info on a celebration their church is planning for the ladies. I listened as she spoke of the four women, in particularly Ms. Underwood and how active she is; needing little to no assistance in daily activities. Later when Saunders and I spoke again, I mentioned how I caught the Washington Post article on the women and the short video. We talked on what a blessing it is for them to reach 99 years of age and look forward to such a milestone in their lives. It seems that Ms. Underwood may be the glue that holds them together as the Post article mentions, just as Saunders told me; Ms. Underwood calls her friends daily, even if it is just a quick phone call to check on them and say hello.
The four women grew up together in Southwest, D.C. Through the changes in their neighborhood, the entire city and world, and through their personal triumphs and struggles, the four remain connected and very close. It’s the kind of narrative that remind me of my mother and her two best friends. The three of them, childhood friends from their Maryland Ave. (Northeast, D.C.) days have seen much laughter and tears. They may go for a while without speaking because life gets busy like that, but they manage to pick up where they left off and keep the stories and memories going. It is friendship best defined. No arguments over who is who “bestie” or other trivial things. They accept each other for who they are and continue to pour love into each other. In reading about the four women, one of the interesting things I felt to be profound was Ms. Underwood’s statement on how their friendship has lasted. She expressed they never had cross words with each other.
That statement is a loaded lesson. Too many times, especially on reality shows that I guess are suppose to be about friendship dynamics, I’ve witnessed or heard the tearing down of a so-called friend, especially among the females. I pray I’m not guilty of such. But I’ve often wonder why such venom is used especially towards a friend? Friendships should not be so complicated, but yet people make them out to be, especially over trivial or petty situations. If it gets complicated or stressful, maybe you all aren’t friends to begin with. I understand that friendships grow and there maybe points where things get uncomfortable. Maybe it’s human nature to immediately feel a certain way, where exuberance or joy isn’t in sight, when one of your best girlfriends announces she is pregnant and you are childless or she is excelling in her goals and making things happen and you feel stuck in your life. But if the friendship is something worth fighting for nothing can pull your friendship asunder (yes..ASUNDER!). Still, sometimes friends grow apart and that’s ok.
For me, friendships are about love. I have my core friends that consist of a couple of friends from childhood, one from high school, one from college and a couple from my early adult life. I have to admit, I suck at being a good friend right now by not being fully present, because of the non-existence of a work/life balance, but I try my hardest to check in when that window arises and when I’m invited to things, the introvert in me may freak out initially, but love conquers and I drag my butt on in support of my friend. In the end I’m always glad and grateful I did. What I love about friends, just like my mother and her crew, I can pick up with my friends as if no real time has been lost.
Well… my high school friend. We’ve had our trials, but a lot of that was us growing from teenagers into college women into real adult women with each other while dealing with our individual selves. Some time might have been lost, but in the end…love. Love brings us back, which is the major ingredient to any friendship. Forget liking your friends, do you love them? I mean love them hardcore as if they are blood?
The word “friend” can be used too loosely. Nowadays, as I’m in my 30’s, I watch when I call someone a friend and vice verso. Are you the kind of friend that when either of us is sick and bed ridden, we can invade each other homes and cook up comfort food and tend to each other? I’ve had the pleasure of meeting interesting and inviting people and continue to do so, but most of these people are professional associates or acquaintances. Granted I’m open to the idea of a new friendship budding, but I’m not calling any and everyone I cross paths with and may still be connected to a friend. I’ve seen that go down and not ending well.
But there is one woman I crossed paths with and I’m so sad that just as I felt our relationship was growing from professional associates to friends, she left this life too soon. I hate that I never got to tell her thank you for the love she poured into me from day one. Immediately after her death, I wondered why she welcomed me with open arms from that first day and even after we lost touch for a couple of years and reconnected, she was consisted. When I attended her service I learned that was who she was. In my heart, she was more than a fellow communications associate. She was a friend.
I say all this to say, we should all take a page out of the sisterhood that the four women share. Sure there are a lot of articles that tell you what friendship isn’t. But I’m here to tell you.. friendship is simply this. Love.
But what if your pathology is you don’t know how to show and receive love? That’s another topic altogether.