i've been thinking about friendship a lot recently, perhaps because these past few months have been a time that would have been especially unbearable without it. there are lots of stories i could tell, some more poetic than the one i'm about to, but i just keep coming back to this simple moment:
i once called my oldest, dearest friend to share some news, the kind of news that was unexpected and complicated and signaled, in many ways, a sea change in life. this friend is thoughtful and contemplative and calm; so normally when i'm telling her something, she listens really well, waits until i'm done and then says something profound, kind and measured. i was only a few sentences in and i heard her say, in a louder voice than she almost ever uses, "oh come on!!!!" i realize it's just three words, and really just an exclamation of emotion, but it made me feel so loved, so understood, so instantly like she was in my corner, that i found myself smiling on the other end. and somehow my load was lightened, it all seemed more bearable now that she knew.
sometimes we need someone to tell us we are strong, we can handle it, to give us some tough love and a pat on the back, but in my experience, more often we need someone who will sit with us in it, not knowing when or how or if it will get better. who asks questions so they might find even a smidgen more space to be empathetic. who doesn't try to fix or compare or belittle, but genuinely acknowledge that what we're experiencing is real and worth paying attention to. that we can become hardened as we hear another sad story or hardship or pain someone is experiencing, they can pile on one another until we are so calloused that we don't weep with each other, we don't allow our heart to ache, that we try to compare one circumstance to another, as if there's any good in finding the most miserable. or we can recognize that part of life is about hands held, walking through things together, no matter what may lay ahead. that we can sit in more than one trench at a time.