The Gift of Friendship
By Mary Ann Carey
I have a group of lovely women friends. There are 12 of us, and we have known each other for about 10 years. We met though our children. Our boys, to be specific, are all the same age and all played soccer, baseball, and basketball together since first grade. The more time goes by and we continue to get together the more we realize just how special is our bond. “Aren’t we lucky to have each other as friends?” someone will ask. All of us agree; we are so blessed. It has become even more important lately since one of our friends has had to move away, as her husband’s job required it.
We cherish our friendships, and at times we cling to these individual and group friendships like life rafts. Our friend who is moving signaled an ending of sorts—we will still be friends, but sadly we won’t be able to just pop over to each other’s house! We are clinging tight to her friendship, and her remaining time here! But there has been even more sobering news, which has us holding tight to the bonds of friendship. You see, in the last six months, four of us out of 12 have cancer – three breast cancers and one lung cancer. Our dear friend who is moving is one of the four.
Our friendships have taken on a new spin since the cancer and moving have become so real. Treatment is now one more thing on the to-do lists of our week. We get together every Tuesday for about an hour. The medicine? Laughter. We laugh about our jobs, our kids, and our cancer treatments.
These friendships have put the problems in their place. The problems do not have power over us! We are busy making each other’s lives full and taking that fullness back to our homes, our jobs, our churches, and to our doctor appointments.
Now, Tuesdays are a prayer. Filled with laughter, listening, crying, encouraging, and eating, Tuesday nights are about healing; even if it’s temporary, it’s still healing. No one leaves on Tuesday night, without having been kissed 11 times, hugged 11 times, and reminded 11 times about our next week’s get-together.
John 7:33 sings loudly in my head, “Jesus said, ‘I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.’”
Twelve women, twelve friendships, brought together by the grace of God. Though we are experiencing trials, God has given us the strength—and the friendship—to endure. We don’t know how this all ends, but we do know that our friendship is a gift from God. And we will cherish it always.