how many friends do you needThis article was written in honor of my very best friend, Dottie, who I met in 1990.  We saw each other through a lot of things, ups and downs, good and bad, weddings and funerals. She was diagnosed with cancer of the blood this Fall. They gave her 1-2 years to live. She passed away so much sooner than we all expected. In these last months, we were able to talk often on the phone (she from Nova Scotia, me from New York ) and say all the things that needed to be said. There was not one moment of doubt in how much our friendship meant to each other. I was the luckiest girl in the world to have her in my life this long.

Friends…I guess there are all kinds in life. In the beginning of any special friendship you think, “This is the best, it will carry me through anything, I will be there for them and they will be here for me – no matter what.”

Friendship is kindasorta like a marriage, though, isn’t it? In sickness and in health? For richer or poorer? In good times and bad? But like marriages, friendships are interesting to watch when the poorer comes, the illness hits and the bad times decide to sit and stay awhile. Sometimes, they make it, and are stronger because of it. Other times the friendship just can’t handle the pressures of real life and tend to fall apart. When the latter happens, it doesn’t make either person good or bad, right or wrong, it just is what it is, you know?

We also have surprising friendships during our lifetime. Times when the people you THINK you can count on are just not there, even though you were so sure just yesterday that they would be. While they might be in the same room with you now, and may still move in the same circles, the emotional support you need is just not available to you anymore.

Then, there are friendships that hit you out of the blue. Maybe a relationship that got off to a rocky start from day one–you didn’t quite hit it off–drove each other crazy with all of the little things that make you “you.” Little by little the friendship grew, though, and became strong. Now there isn’t a day in your life that you can picture without them.

Or a friendship that started the moment you met. That “best friend” meeting, when you both knew in an instant that something spectacular had occured when you smiled and said hello. When, no matter where life took each of you, no matter how many miles were between, your bond would make it and your closeness would last through anything life threw in your direction.

I have been lucky, for sure. I have a handful of friends that I can absolutely count on through the thick and thin of life. Some days in our friendship may have been rocky, when things happened and had to be ironed out and worked through. But, the friendship for each of us was worth the work and ended up stronger for it.

At my age I realize that I only need a handful. I only need the friends that I can talk to, that can see me through the changes in my life as well as the sifting sands of their own.

I only need a handful. Friends that know me, that can laugh with me, cry with me, be quiet or loud with me. Friends that can let me in. Ones that can share their own story, as I am free to tell mine.

The other ones, the fair weather ones, the ones who run or walk away, who just cannot share the joy or sorrow, the ups or downs of the every day life, just don’t matter.

The handful carries me.

I am blessed.

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