A few months ago, I was idling away some time on Facebook and almost on a whim typed in the search section the name of a friend who had attended university with me. We had shared many happy hours talking about our studies, hopes, boyfriends, faith, life goals and the many topics that two young women,in their early twenties, might discuss. For a while, we kept in touch, but as the years went by, lost contact. Now, thanks to Facebook, there she was again, just a click away. I sent her a friend request and she accepted immediately. I found out that she had 17-year-old twins, in their final year of high school. She was surprised that I had five children, and that one of them was married. Since then we have been exchanging notes and pictures, and I feel blessed that even though I just recently found out about her twins, I will now have the pleasure of seeing their prom and graduation pictures, finding out what universities they choose to attend, and feeling a small part of their lives.
On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate not only romantic love but friendship. In the Bible, this type of relationship is referred to as philia love, the feeling of connectedness two friends have for each other. Friendship offers support, nurture, caring, shared interests, laughter and fun. We aren’t meant to walk alone. We are meant to be in relationships with other people. Joy is heightened by friendship and sorrow is lessened. Even if our contact is restricted to an occasional letter or a note at Christmas, we know our friends are there and savour our past history.
Since I tend to find change difficult, during my childhood I envisioned living my life near my family in Southern Ontario. However, I fell in love with a young man who chose the ministry as his calling. Our first child was born in Saskatchewan. The next four were born in Ottawa, during a lengthy period in Eastern Ontario. Then in 2000, we moved to Nova Scotia, where we plan to remain. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to live in the same house or the same location, for most of a lifetime. There are certainly positive aspects to this, including a sense of security, stability and continuity. However, in spite of the drawbacks of our frequent moves, I would not change the past. Everywhere we have lived, we have met people who have deeply enriched our lives. I would not exchange such a precious gift.
In September 2014, we suffered the terrible loss of my sister and brother-in-law’s 31-year-old daughter. There were many people at the visitation, in Ontario, that I had not seen for some time. One of these was my best friend from elementary school. To me, she looked unchanged since we had parted, when her family moved in the middle of our Grade 8 year. We talked about old memories. She said, “Do you remember Mr. White making you stand on the top of your desk? You stood there and tapped your foot!” I had blocked out this memory, but her retelling the story brought some levity into a very sad evening. Later, a woman came up to me and said how glad she was when she heard I was coming. My friend recognized the panic in my expression, which clearly conveyed that I was desperately trying to recall who the woman was. Like the good friend she has always been, she came to my rescue.
On Valentine’s Day, and all through the year, remember your friends with appreciation and love. To all my friends: I am deeply grateful for you. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Note: Mr. White: name changed.