The other day I changed my Facebook status to a short paragraph in support of all those affected by cancer. This was the same day I ran a Facebook search on my high school best friend and found her. She said she liked my cancer support status. Today she sent me a message saying her husband just finished an intense two-month cancer treatment. We are all 40 and graduated together.
The news shook me. Memories flashed. Linda is one of those “life friends.” Many of us have them. The kind of friend where it doesn’t matter how long it’s been… the only feelings there when you re-connect are love and acceptance. Memories, memories, memories… I remember hugging Linda when we were high school sophomores and her father died. I remember that the life-long bond she shares with her husband began as comfort and support in the wake of her father’s death. I remember being college roommates at two different universities. There were many fun firsts growing up together.
I know many people who are hurting these days. I struggle to make sense out of things that seem completely unfair. How do you help these hurting friends and family members? Maybe the answer is simple. Maybe you help by just being their friend. You ask, “How are you?” in a way that shows you truly want to know – that you aren’t asking it because you think you should. You honestly want to know the answer and listen fearlessly to their response.
You let your friends talk. People need to know they aren’t alone. They need to know that even as they participate in everyday life, someone understands it may not feel so normal to them anymore. And as their friend you are okay with that… you will walk beside them as they find a new normal. Friendship is a vital connection for anyone struggling. It can be that one thing to cling to when everything else feels like it’s falling apart.
Maybe some things happen for a reason. When I lost my father I found his sister. My wonderful aunt is an important part of my life now. There were so many times she kept me strong two summers ago. Maybe I reached out to my friend at exactly the right time – a time when she needs all the faith, hope and love she can find.