Last week, the words, "Absolutely! I'm always in if you want to celebrate!" were said in response to a phone call about a joint birthday celebration. Yes, please do call when there's a new baby to welcome, a wedding to attend, or simply the chance to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee. These are not the only calls that come, though.
Mother used to refer to what she called, "fair-weather friends," and she used the term like a curse word. Not knowing what they meant, but wanting to not be whatever it was, I eventually asked her to define this Very Bad Thing. She explained that there will be people who be happy to walk alongside one as long as everything in life is good, but who will either run screaming or quietly disappear when Trouble comes knocking.
Trouble is a fairly consistent party crasher, too. As much pleasure as there is in celebrating with people, my hope is not simply to be invited to all the best parties, but to also be the friend who gets the call, text, e-mail, Facebook message, blog comment, or opens the front door to find the friend who is being tossed about a little by one of life's storms. Because that's when one truly needs a friend. So, not to be a permanent addition to the Guest List, but to be on the call list when Life Hands You Lemons is the sort of friend I want to be, but also the sort of friendships I hope to build.
This reminder is not born solely out of thoughts of the friend slated for a hospital visit today, or the friends who will be waiting in the reception line at the funeral home tonight, or the one who will text about her husband's chemo tolerance. Neither am I necessarily thinking of the one whose daughter will be baptized Sunday, or even the one driving her child to an early college interview this morning. None of them are far from my heart and prayers, but today I'm feeling a smidge selfish. All these thoughts on friendship are crystal clear because of the ones who don't bat an eyelash when I call them up last minute and ask for a ride to and from a medical appointment that precludes driving myself and turns their schedules topsy-turvy. My mother's mother used to have a saying or two about friends as well. The one that comes to mind today is, "To have a friend, first be one!"