For some reason the phrase, “A friend in need is a friend indeed” has been on my mind all week. Odd, that a saying I cannot recall ever using in my life should be echoing through my brain nonstop.
I suppose many things could have triggered this thought. It could be the news story of three women who forged a bond during a decade of captivity. Or it could be the finalists on American Idol who seemed to value friendship over winning the title. Although, my DVR kicked off during the final moments, I later saw a picture of a frozen moment of time—Kree, with a look of pure joy, turned toward a stunned Candace. Maybe part of it could be tuning in to re-runs of Golden Girls and seeing the interaction between Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy—friends who fuss, fight, banter, and insult each other but still love each other.
These fascinating events could have been the impetus behind my obsession about the nuances of friendship, but I think it was more personal than that. I have been blessed with the gift of abundant friendship from some truly amazing men and women. My friendship list, and not the one on Facebook, reads like the Who’s Who of Friends Indeed.
My first friends are made up of family and co-workers. Over the past fifteen years, I’ve greatly widened my circle of friends by giving time to groups, clubs, and organizations. I’ve become friends with like-minded people I would never have met otherwise.
Although, I would love to honor all my friends, I’ve decided to limit it to one handsome southern gentleman and three women I met during my first Alzheimer’s advocacy visit to Washington, D.C. Ralph and I were party crashers at a reception for executive directors. We were board members who had come to the forum and didn’t know anyone besides the executive directors of our chapters. He and I wound up exploring the Capitol city and became fast friends. Ralph declared himself to be the oldest advocate, but he knew he had to do everything he could for his lovely wife.
In the first plenary session, a woman with smooth brown hair framing her face stood up to talk about her husband who had early onset Alzheimer’s. She echoed my own concerns that not enough was being done to find a cure, and that if one came, it was probably going to be too late. I understood her pain and heartbreak. When the session ended, I made my way through the crowd of people and introduced myself to Jane. It was like finding a long lost friend.
Later that first year, I met two more women, Kathy and Sarah. Kathy had a winning smile and flashing eyes. Sarah, slim and trim, was beautiful inside and out. We four women, plus Ralph, became inseparable. We had the bond of being caregivers for spouses with Alzheimer’s, and after sharing the heartbreak and sadness, we often regaled each other with humorous stories. The one thing we all had in common was a wacky sense of humor.
Just like in the movies, we met at the same place, same time each year at the forum. Sometimes we shared a few emails between, but it seemed as if the forum was our special time, our sister/brotherhood time. Each year was a reunion of heart friends.
Jane and I roomed together a few times. In our down time, we spent time people watching and making up stories about them. “See that woman in the slinky dress and high heels? She’s on her way to meet a lover.” Another year, we stood watch over the building across the street that had suspicious activity every night. Big limos parked in front of it and random lights came on in offices. “Spies!” we decided. We spent so much time together that some people thought I was from New York too. When the New York group bought tickets to a play at Ford’s Theatre, Jane insisted they buy one for her roommate.
Time passed and our reunions were sobered by death as we lost our spouses, one by one. Then one year Jane didn’t come. A few years later, Ralph didn’t come. Now Kathy, Sarah, and I meet each year with hugs, laughter, and tears. They each hold a special place in my heart, and I am so thankful to know them. We are friends indeed and our love for each other surpasses the bounds of time and distance.