Nurturing Precious Friendships
Wednesday - September 17, 2008
I hadn’t heard from a friend in awhile so I decided to get in touch, using a mode of communication I’d never tried before. Texting is for kids, I thought, but maybe I’ll give it a go.
“Hey,” I slowly typed out on the miniscule keyboard, “I never do this so I’m practicing on you. What’s up?”
“U can practice on me all u want. BTW I had a stroke. I’m better now.”
Whoa. My vibrant, smart and beautiful friend had had a stroke. She had just spent a month in the hospital.
A frenzy of texting in the next few minutes calmed me somewhat. She can talk and walk and text - good sign. The left side of her body is weak. She has problems dressing and focusing, especially on what’s happening on the left side of her body. But otherwise, she said, she is exceeding expectations.
A phone call the next day was even more reassuring. There’s nothing like actually hearing a voice if you can’t meet face to face. Her speech was crisp. No slurring, no lapses. She sounded unchanged, mentally sharp and like her normal self. Only she wasn’t, and we both knew it. She faces many challenges ahead in her recovery.
My friend lives on the Mainland and we don’t talk to each other every day, or even every month. I hadn’t heard from her in awhile, but that is pretty normal for us. When I finally decided to text her I thought we’d do what we had done so many times before - just pick up where we left off. That’s what a lot of long-distance friends do nowadays.
It’s easier than ever to maintain a relationship from afar. Cell phones and computers keep us tethered in ways we couldn’t imagine in that quaint era of snail mail and landline telephones.
Barack Obama is running an entire presidential campaign based on a network of millions of cyberspace “friends.” Thanks to YouTube, and Google, and Facebook, and IM and text messaging, we think we know everything about everybody.
And yet ...
We tend to take people for granted because we know they’re just an e-mail or a phone call away. That knowledge lulls us into complacency. We let a little time elapse, and then a little more. Our lives are complicated, our schedules are packed, and pretty soon it’s been weeks, then months without contact. Out of sight, out of mind.
With all the technology at our fingertips we’ve gotten lazy. But friends, true friends, are more than a blip in cyberspace or a message on a screen. True friendships require nurturing and intimacy. We have to expend energy in relationships. We need to seek out our friends, talk to them, share our lives with them. It’s never a good idea to let too much time pass without an actual conversation.
I recently saw the movie Sex and the City (yeah, I’m the last woman in America to see it). What struck me about it wasn’t the clothes (ridiculous) or the sex (graphically unsexy) or the plot (Plot? There was a plot?). What struck me was the insistence of these women on staying involved with each other’s lives. They talked - and talked and talked - on the phone, they got together whenever they could, they quarreled and they made up, but they never lost contact with each other for very long.
Real-life friendships in my world don’t look like the ones in the Sex and the City alternate universe. We don’t dress in designer clothes and hop on a plane to fly across the country on a moment’s notice to lunch with the girls. And when we do get together, we talk about our families, or our jobs, or movies or politics or food, but not sex.
But we can learn a lesson even from these shallow ladies: Your friends are like gold, so keep them close. Don’t let large chunks of your life go by without them. After all, you just never know when one of them might have a stroke, or worse.
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