“A friend is…crumbs, let me think. Someone who sticks by you, I think. Someone who won’t let you down.”
Oh Mother, you haven’t said. What do you think a friend is?
Mother frowned thoughtfully and carried on nipping the little stalks off her gooseberries without replying. She said eventually, “Well, I’ve had friends who’ve disappointed me. Sometimes, even the ones who loved have let me down, and not understood, and betrayed my trust. Thats only human nature, isn’t it? I daresay I’ve done as much to them. No, I would say that because we all have our failings and weaknesses, because each of us is only human, a friend – a good friend – is someone who helps you to persevere.”
“What?” said Therese.
“A friend is someone who helps you to persevere. When the going gets touch and you’re on the point of jacking it all in; by the time you reach my age, Therese, you will be able to look back at lots of times when you nearly gave up and walked away from a difficult situation; and the people you will remember with thanks and love are the ones who helped you, in those moments, to persevere”.
Penelope Wilcock, The Wounds of God
I have been looking for a suitable definition for friendship for awhile now, and this is the closest fit to my experience that I have yet to discover. I stumbled upon it while reading my most recent book and I felt like I do when I stumble upon a missing earring while looking for the library book. A bonus find, perhaps more valuable than the item for which I was looking.
Friendships are important to me and I have done my fair share of failing them, and have been failed. This has not squelched my desire to cultivate them. Actually, it’s been the opposite. The people who really know each other and are still showing up for the other, screwing up a little less, cheering a little louder, they are the miracles.
If I had only a handful of words I could choose to describe my feeble attempt at a life, serving as the umbrella over my eternal resting place, one of them would be Friend. And by friend, that up there is what I mean.