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Monday, October 08, 2007

on friendship

Thanks to everyone for your nice thoughts and gestures during our difficult week. Thank you to you who brought food and gifts and sent cards and phoned and sent emails and visited me at home and visited me at work and sent me flowers. It's over now, and I feel good about how I felt last week. I think it's a good thing to have that week to mourn, to grieve, to cry and feel. Heavenly Father knew I'd need that time, so He gave me Curly's birthday exactly one week before, and Bubby's birthday exactly one week following. I (and my family) really feel and appreciate your love, support and friendship.

Friendship. That reminds me.

A few months ago, I wrote that I was taking requests on what to blog about. Here, from suedonym:

I want to hear about how you have maintained all of your great friendships over the years.

And from Queen Scarlett:

HOW do you cultivate and nurture all your relationships and stay sane?

This is actually something I've been asked about several times in my life, so today I'll take a minute to write about it.

I enjoy people. The older I get, the more I want to know people's stories (which is difficult since the older I get, the more my life is filled know, life). Everyone has a tale. No one should be dismissed or overlooked. Perhaps I got to these conclusions by feeling that I myself was being dismissed and overlooked too often, I'm not certain. Either way, people deserve attention.

The first question: how have I maintained friendships over the years? Honestly, it's simple: it's a choice I made, so it's what I do. I am lucky enough to have some friendships that are enduring: no matter how long it's been since we've seen or talked with each other, we're able to just pick up right where we left off like we had just seen each other yesterday. Those are the cream of the crop friendships. Others...well, they take work. I've made a decision that these people matter, and so they're worth my time. Really, how much effort is it to call someone? Or, if you miss their call, to call them back? How much time does it take to send an email, or even write a card and stick it in the mail? Minutes. That's it. I can write a card while I'm making dinner, or watching tv. It's not hard. I don't know why it's unique.

I used to be known for sending birthday cards. TO EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY. This may not be a lot of cards for some people (for instance, my husband, who has a total of three cousins), but for me, this birthday card list was extensive. I only just recently stopped doing this. It was something that I needed to let go of for personal reasons, but once it stopped, I began noticing how people missed it: "Oh, Jenny is always so thoughtful -- so good at remembering birthdays." People really like to be remembered.

And Queen's question about nurturing relationships and staying sane: well, this could relate to any number of facets in my life, but I'll apply it to this topic of friendship. Again, I've made it a priority. I invest time into my friends, whether that be by way of phone call, or even an email. I'll be honest: when it's not reciprocated, it hurts, and I don't stay all that sane. I do understand that not everyone is a card-writer, or even a phone-talker, but after a while you start to wonder where you fit in this esteemed friend's life, you know?

The older my kids get (and subsequently, the more activities which fill our lives), the harder it is to keep in touch with other people. There are days when I finally get around to calling my oldest (not in age, but in how long we've been friends) friend in Washington, and it will have been well over a week since I first meant to call her, but my days just filled up all too quickly. Still, calling her was on my "to-do" list, and so I got to it as quickly as I could.

Sadly, I have lost contact with a few friends. I no longer know where they are or what is going on in their lives. One friend from high school, for instance, may or may not be married, teaching music and living in the Atlanta area. I've lost contact with him, and I've tired of sending him yearly letters at his parents' house (we're 30, for crying out loud). I haven't changed location/phone number since he and I last spoke, so I can only hope that he would try to get in touch with me at some point. If it is worth it to him, he will.

My friend CC and I are still in touch, yet we haven't seen each other for about 15 years. Yes, half of our lives. And we're still in touch. It's worth it to us.

That concludes this session. I hope I was clear, and I hope I wasn't insulting. I am very blessed with wonderful friendships in my life.


Cardine said...

Wow. You have my genuine respect. I stink at keeping in touch.

Anonymous said...

You are great at the friend thing. I know from when I first met you you have always been so kind as to invite me in--even when I drop by unannounced--and take some time to visit with me. You know, like you're really interested. That is a great gift in this day and age and it means a lot.

I don't think I fully appreciated the value of friendships until after I was married. Girls drove me absolutely crazy before, but now I would be absolutely certifiable if it weren't for my girlfriends.

Thanks for being my friend.

Tori :) said...

I'm not a phone talker- I don't enjoy it at all. Which makes it hard for me when it comes to keeping in touch with friends that aren't emailers or what not.
I am a card sender though!
You're such an example Jenny.

Carina said...

You are so much better at the card than I. You're the BEST at card/note sending.

Tiffany UnTwisted said...

I hope I'm the kind of friend that you know will call you or email you at some random point beacuse I am not a card writer, phone caller, emailer, or anything. I just randomly decide that I will always be friends with people that I meet and think are wonderful and whenever I can get the little chances to do things, I do them. Otherwise, I hope everybody just knows how much I love them even if I don't have daily, weekly, monthly contact.

It is beautiful knowing you Mrs. ~j, and I love it!

Sister Pottymouth said...

You are amazing. When Phil and I came looking for you the other night, he was asking me what you are like. I kept telling him, "She's just an amazing person." There's no describing you otherwise. I just wish you lived up in our neighborhood.

sue-donym said...

I'm glad I commented on your perfume. I think that is how we started to be friends.

QueenScarlett said...

I am grateful for blogging... you are and always will be my first blog-friend (met virtually and finally in person via blogging). I am so lucky.