The Reliability of Friendship


Sometimes it is hard to be a friend;

hard to follow the rules that govern our relationships,

and there are rules in real life that we must abide by.

I have a friend who does not like to be touched.

This is hard for me because I am a toucher.

I lean over to give a pat, or an arm rub, a nudge, a hug.

With my best friend, I have to stand impassive, remote, detached,

as she works through difficult, even tragic, moments alone,

when I all I want to do is gather her up, caressing,

embracing, pressing her close, gently sustaining her.

Both her parents died within months of each other after long illnesses.

She went through hell.

She would come to my house and sit next to me, and cry.

She would just cry, sometimes quietly, sometimes not,

and I would have to sit next to her, my empty hands

aching to touch her shoulder, rub her back, hug her.

I could only sit by her, steady and sure, my very presence

helping her, settling her down, easing her pain, strengthening her,

so that she could go back, dry-eyed and strong to help her parents,

and watch them fail before her eyes, dying by inches.

I have never felt more helpless.

At her mother’s funeral, as I came close to her, she said,

"Don’t even think of hugging me."

So I didn’t

This is the burden I carry to be her friend.

It is my responsibility to give her what she needs.

To stay standing apart, to joke, to tease her;

to feed her and give her a place to unwind.

In return, she bolsters my courage, sooths my temper, rudely teases me,

forgives my mistakes, praises my accomplishments,

makes me laugh, and gives me all she can.

A good definition of friendship.

A better example of love.



© Ellie Maziekien



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