Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Woman With FRIENDS

When I think of friends, I can't help but think of my mother. She had more friends than anyone I ever met. At her deathbed, when we were all gathered around her, someone (I think it was my wise sister-in-law Tonya) made sure to call my mother's best friends to make sure they could come say goodbye.

And they did. Her best best friend was there. She supplied the Jimmy Johns sandwiches that the whole assembled crew had for lunch. Three other women showed up too, the ones that my mother met like the DAY she moved to Minnesota, newly divorced with three young, young, young kids in tow. She managed to make best friends with those people the day she moved here, and they saw her through to the very end, coming to bid her farewell as she slipped away from us.

These women were just the top of my mom's friend list. She had church friends, neighborhood friends, friends from her PTA days, friends from the days that she led Girl Scouts, book club friends. When she was rediagnosed with cancer in 2006, she formed four healing circles of 15 people each. That's 60 friends that she didn't hesitate to call to support her as she geared up to heal from cancer. Friends who gladly gave their time and their healing energy, because she had given her time and energy to them. As she got sicker and sicker at the end of her life, we kept encouraging her to cut back on visits from friends, but I think these visits sustained her and she was wise to keep her friends around her.

My mother had a special magic about her when it came to making and nurturing friendships. I wish I had studied it more when she was alive. I wish I asked her more questions about what makes a good friend and how she could befriend anyone - I mean anyone. I remember we went to Easter services at All Souls Unitarian in New York City (in Easter 2009). She made instant friends with the guy sitting next to her. In the middle of Manhattan. On Easter Sunday.
I sure do miss you Mom. Even though I say that I'm not my children's friend, I think you and I came to be friends over the years. That means that my loss was especially keen - a wonderful mother and a wonderful friend.

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