Friends When Needed

Two days ago I wrote about people you need in your parenting village, but it is not only parents who need villages. In the past week I have been greatly blessed–more than once–to be brought into contact with exactly the person I needed, even when I didn’t know I needed them.

I saw her from a distance in Sam’s Club. She was a long-time friend with whom I have very infrequent contact. I almost said nothing. She had not seen me. I wasn’t feeling particularly sociable, in fact I was feeling the opposite of social. My head was full of things and I wanted to think them all through. But her name flew out of my mouth and she turned to me with a smile. Within three sentences our conversation dove straight past chatting and directly into the heart of our lives. Her current struggles mirrored mine. We stood in the aisle at Sam’s Club for forty minutes and when we parted we both felt lighter.

The letter arrived in a pile of bills and I opened it last, because I like to savor the best bits. The friend who wrote it to me had no way to know exactly what my week had been like, but her words brought tears to my eyes and helped me on a hard day.

It should be easy to call my friend and say “I need to talk” but somehow that call is difficult to make when I know for certain that talking will lead to crying. Instead I emailed and scheduled a brunch get together, warning her that I intended to unload piles of thoughts. She cheerfully told me that it was a wonderful idea. So we met. And we talked. And we took turns crying. But there was less crying than I expected and more laughing. I returned home feeling lighter.

This time there were two letters nestled among the bills. The last responses from my Month of Letters missives. I’d abandoned sending daily mail sometime toward the end of February when everything got to be a bit too much. But these two friends wrote back to me. I opened the letters and read, happy to hear how they are doing, and to hear the answers to questions I asked in my own letters.

I stood at my kitchen sink, pondering my day, when I felt I should call one of my friends. Our friendship was built on in-person visits. We weren’t really phone call people, but I looked at the clock and knew I had half an hour before it was time to pick up kids from school. It was exactly enough time for this call. I knew it without knowing how I knew. So I called. And she needed to talk, even though before my call she hadn’t quite realized she needed to talk to me. Our conversation wound down after about twenty five minutes and we said goodbye. I hung up the phone feeling lighter because I’d gotten so many answers lately and it was nice to be the answer someone else needed.

Six conversations with six different women, all of whom made my life a better place this week. I am so very grateful for my village.