Growing up, my Mom worked really hard at teaching Frankie and I what it was to be a good friend. She taught me to befriend the new kid at school, to talk to the "uncool" kid on the play ground, that if you aren't going to invite all the kids in your class to your birthday party that you don't hand out invitations at school. She taught me that being a loyal friend meant that you were there even when it wasn't convenient. She taught me that to be "popular" meant that you had as many friends, from as many different social circles, as possible. For a few years of my life, I hung out exclusively with the "in crowd", until I realized that I was forgetting everything my Mom worked so hard to teach me...and that I was really missing out on some amazing friendships by limiting myself to one crowd. (One crowd of people who weren't even very good at being a good friend, looking back.) And as I got older (and got married) she taught me that staying close to your friends was almost more important once you started a family of your own, because they help you remember who YOU are as you get lost in the day to day.
So, what's the point of this? Well, it may appear to be a humble brag, but I assure you it's not. Today I got a beautiful letter via email from a friend who has always been present, but we're not as close as we were years ago. I asked the author of this letter if I could share it, and she agreed, as long as she stayed anonymous. And, while this letter is an overly-generous thank you to me for being there for her during a tough time she had recently, this letter re-instilled some really valuable lessons.
We hadn't talked in a long time other than the casual Facebook happy birthday salutation when you saw my status. And there you were back in friendship overdrive making sure I was okay. I don't even know how to say this the right way, but I'm going to try. You are a "crisis friend". You're the person everyone can trust and depend on to step up in the time of crisis. And you always do. Without thinking you helped pick up my pieces and without judgment allowed me to pour out my heart to you, then you did everything in your power to try and help me put my pieces together again. There aren't many people like you in this world, you know. The friend who walks directly into the fire instead of away from it. But that's what you do, and I really just need to thank you for that.
But the thing about being the "crisis friend" is that when the crisis is over, sometimes I am too quick to fall back into my routines and forget that you are just as awesome as an "everyday friend" as you are a friend in crisis. I imagine I'm not alone in that fault. I can't do anything about anyone else but I can say that I am going to try and be a better friend to YOU, because maybe someday you'll need a friend to walk into the fire, and maybe it can be me."
I must have read the email 5 (or 10) times. I might have cried through it once (or twice). All I could think about was the lesson(s) my Mom taught me. And then I thought...maybe I, too, should work harder to be a better "everyday friend". And that maybe if we all work harder to be better "everyday friends" this world would be a happier, less lonely-feeling place - not just on the bad days, but on the best days too.
And to my "anonymous" friend, thank you, again. You've inspired me to be a better...me!