I've been blessed with an amazing assortment of friends. Some are in my neighborhood, others are on far continents. Some friends are also family members, while others came into my life serendipitously. Some friends share my values, my generational frame of reference and or aspects of my upbringing, but I have lots of friends with whom I have very few life experiences in common.
Here are some of the gifts my friends give me:
One friend cries for me when I cannot summon tears.
One friend tells me I am amazing for doing the most mundane, unremarkable things.
One friend kindled the spark in me to write, then surrounded me with protective praise until the spark could grow to a self-sustaining blaze.
One friend lets me brag openly about my kids without apology.
One friend will not allow me to criticize my husband without demanding I think of something equally important to compliment about him.
One friend pretends she only cleans her house for me, so I won't be feel ill-at-ease in her spotless home.
One friend never cleans for my visits, and makes no excuses, proving her trust in my love of her for herself.
One friend, who is devoutly religious in a different faith from me, always closes our conversations with the statement: "I am praying for you," and I'm thankful that she does.
One friend praises my daughters for things I forget to appreciate in them myself.
One friend maintains a "no whining" policy, no matter my complaint.
One friend encourages me to exercise in the most everyday ways; not to get her perfect body, but because she knows I feel so much better mentally after gardening, or rearranging furniture or walking the dog.
One friend knows just by looking at me that I need a hug.
One friend shares her costly professional knowledge with me and my family freely, because she loves to be of service.
One friend lets me hang out with her small children whenever I want to.
One friend calls me from her yacht on a Caribbean island to tell me that she misses me.
One friend constantly inspires me with her amazing powers of compassion.
One friend's dedication to helping underprivileged children feeds my faith in mankind each time I speak with her.
I may not call as much as I should, I may forget to send school pictures and Christmas cards, but wanted my friends to know that I appreciate the many gifts the give me, just by being part of my life.