Big Friendship is a bond of great strength, force and significance that transcends life phases, geography, and emotional shifts. It is large in dimension, affecting most aspects of each person’s life. It is full of meaning and resonance. A Big Friendship is reciprocal, with both parties feeling worthy of each other and willing to give of themselves in generous ways. A Big Friendship is active. Hearty. And almost always, a Big Friendship is mature. Its advanced age commands respect and predicts its ability to last far into the future.Big Friendship. How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
If I wish something for our son is that, sometime in his lifetime, he encounters a Big Friendship. That he meets that once in a lifetime kind of person whom he can be completely himself with, whom he knows is always there, regardless of the amount of time and space between their meetings, whom he misses every other day and whose voice he can hear in his head in times of great trials. That once in a lifetime person who doesn’t need that call that asks “please, think of me today, it’s tough.” One that he knows, beyond all questions and invitations, is always linked to his soul. Chosen family.
Today I want to stop and celebrate two things. The first one is the immense grace that life has shown me, allowing me to hang on until things got better. That I am here to bask into not only living a true and fulfilled life but equally to enjoy the priviledge of a Big Frienship. This can only be grace – nobody can ever do anything as worthy (and I don’t think miracles are ever about that). The second celebration is my Big Friend herself. Today is her birthday and I hope that at least part of the love she gives, the smiles she shares every day, the immense heart and kindness she imparts with so many others come to lift her.
My partner and I often say we feel she is not of this world. The first time I thought that was precisely twenty years ago. On this day. Except that it was not a celebration. On her birthday, two decades back, she was saying goodbye to the love of her life whose life had ended far too soon. It has been such a long time in human years and yet, I can close my eyes and see ourselves face to face in the cemetery, her blue eyes, filled with rivers of tears and her smile, beautiful even in immense grief: “well, only this could have done us part.” Otherworldly.
In the depth of my depression, only two people could reach me somewhat. The love of my life and my Big Friend. I wondered many times why: I had a child, I was married, I had a big family. And yet, the loneliness was all encompassing. I was hanging on by the thread of their love and the certainty that, regardless of how things unfolded for me, no matter how deep the pit, they would be right there with me. I remember talking to my Big Friend on a day that had passed like molases, a moment by moment alternation of turmoil, fear and nothingness and asking her point blanc: “will you take care of my child if I don’t make it?” I am sure my Big Friend knew the standard answers. I am sure her first instinct was to say “come on, you’ll be fine.” But because my Big Friend SAW me, understood what I needed to hear, she put aside the pain I am sure she felt for me in that moment and said “of course I will”. (Years and years ago some aquaintance, envisioning herself as a close friend, told me she was insulted I had asked someone else to be my son’s godmother. I could not respond. What would do justice to the fact that my Big Friend shared a heart with us and our son? That her being his godmother was … natural. I could not even begin to explain. Only people blessed to live this would understand.)
A decade ago when the truth of me could no longer be in the closet (even from me) and when I made steps that changed so many lives I could tell that my Big Friend was shaken. Yet I knew (and what an amazing privilege to know this in your heart of hearts) that she was not judging us. She was afraid for me. For us. I remember her honesty when I came out to her. She trusted me enough to voice her thoughts honestly and that meant the world. I am sure that, in the moment, she was confused, that she had opinions, that she was heartbroken for the family that was breaking up. And yet, she did the otherworldly: she stayed with her discomfort and open her arms wide to me and the love of my life. Trusting alongside us that life was going to get better. It surpassed all our dreams. And it would not be complete without our Big Friend in it. You know how they say that children only need one trusting adult to be ok? Well … anyone needs one trusting adult I guess.
Knowing that my Big Friend is there is one of the few pillars in my life. My thought runs to her when deep questions torment me or when I am joyful and grateful. The other night our home was quiet, despite the wind outside, it was warm and cosy, our son and my partner were working on homework and I was reading. I stopped to take it all in. And my first thought was, I should text our Big Friend so she can partake in our joy. She would be happy with us and for us. I didn’t because I remembered that it was a tough day for her. So I only shared a heart. Hopefully, she felt a tingle of joy come her way too.
Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash
I was just talking about this with my daughter about how many friends are good. I told her less than a handful. It’s so good when you have someone like that!!! Love you!
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I know that feeling. In time of certain turns in your life
When you need hope, an escape a pillar and you are relying on that life saver or more like oxygen