The Gift of Friendship
Yesterday I spent eleven hours at the hospital with dear friends, one of whom went through a very difficult and life-changing surgery. The experience of being there for them was deeply touching. I have always known that my friends are important to me and that I would be there for them in times of need, just as I know they would be there for me. Yesterday reinforced the meaning of true friendship in a very meaningful way.
I got up early to head to the YMCA for a shower, and then on to the hospital. We’d been waiting to hear when the surgery would be scheduled, as the doctors kept changing their minds, trying to ensure the safest outcome for my friend. Once the call was made, my sweet students were very flexible and allowed me to reschedule their lessons so that I could be at the hospital throughout the ordeal.
As I watched the tenderness and concern between my two friends, I thought about my Dan. What if this had been us? What if I was the one not knowing if my partner in life would come through surgery? I can’t even imagine the helplessness and anxiety I would feel, the fear. The constant parade of doctors and nurses, each seeming to have a different opinion on what would happen, and when it would happen. My friends have been under a lot of stress, and finally getting to the surgery was scary, but also a point of arrival. From this point on, there was a chance to turn things around health-wise, an opportunity to greatly increase quality of life.
My friends are truly wonderful human beings. They have shown such kindness to my mom since she moved to Birmingham, and are family to us. The friend having surgery is Mom’s best friend in Birmingham, and their bond is deep. We all spend every holiday together, text or talk every day. We laugh, we cry, we share our lives. We do not have common blood, but we are family nonetheless. There was no other place I could be yesterday but with my friends, and being there for them was a gift to me, a chance to give back to them and provide moral support when they needed it most.
When my friend was finally wheeled back into his room post surgery, we all felt such relief. The most challenging part of this experience was over. The next phase will be challenging as well, as my friend learns to cope with the changes in his life and in his body. He can do this, he can make it to the other side. He has the staunch love and devotion of his partner, and he has friends…family, who love him and will stand by him.
Human connection, friendship, is powerful. To have friends is one of life’s greatest gifts. To be a good friend is another one of those great gifts, one that is full of lessons. I hope I will always work to be a good friend- The rewards are immeasurable…a gift that keeps on giving.