Who’s Your Best Friend?

by Judith Rich on June 16, 2009

 This article about spiritual retreats being the new spas got me to thinking about my trip tomorrow to Bainbridge Island, WA.  I’m going on my annual pilgrimage to visit my best friend and fellow HuffPo blogger, Cara Barker.   

Best friend retreats – I highly recommend them!  Here’s what Cara and I do for five days:

  • Unplug from the world and recharge the batteries
  • Get a new perspective on our lives
  • Brainstorm ideas for living with more creativity, less stress
  • Remove all trace of shoulds, have tos, or guilt from our thinking and language
  • Laugh….. a LOT!  

I could have left out the first four items and just written the last one….. laugh a LOT!  

I don’t know about you and your best friend, but mine makes me laugh in a way no one else on the planet does.  I’m her best audience!   I wrote an article awhile back, 10 Ways To Nurture Soulful Living (you’ll find it in the blog archives here) and one of the 10 ways was “Uncontrollable belly laughter”.  I was thinking of Cara when I wrote that.  Deep laughter is restorative to the soul in a way that nothing else comes close.  

My best friend and I share a long and storied history, 35 years to be exact.   We call it “the long walk down the hallway”.  We’ve been through the scary times and the good times together.  We’ve been through the death of family members and loved ones, marriages and divorces.  We’ve shared similar challenges with our daughters and watched them grow from little girls into beautiful women.

Soon, Cara will become a grandmother.  A new life is about to join the circle!  We’ve shared the same career path throughout much of our history, and even began blogging on the Huffington Post the very same week, totally by coincidence.  

Our life journeys have mirrored one another’s so closely, I’ve often thought my best friend was the perfect gift from God, a mirror to see myself more clearly.  If I can’t figure out what’s going on in my own life, I call to check in on hers and I usually find my own answers.  

 My best friend and I know each other inside and out.  We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and count on one another to tell the inconvenient truth when it needs to be told.   We’ve been surrogate parents to each others’ children, serving as “stand-in moms”  on those times when our daughters have needed a maternal ear to listen or shoulder to lean on, especially when it needed to be one not attached to their own mother.   And those times have been plenty!  It really does take a village.  My best friend is the co-tribal chieftain in my village.  I know I can count on her to have my back, no matter what, as I have hers. 

Do you have someone you consider your “best” friend?  Who is it?  Tell us about him or her.  What does your best friend bring to your life that no one else does?  What do you count on them for?  What qualities does your best friend bring out in you?  If you live far apart, how do you stay in touch?  What does being a best friend mean to you?  When was the last time the two of you celebrated your friendship?  

This week, my best and I will sit on the deck overlooking Puget Sound and listen to the seals, watch the ferries pass by, and bask in the glory of the Cascades and Mt. Olympus.  Very restorative food for the soul!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy Gamble June 17, 2009 at 9:03 AM

My Best Friend
I met Norma when we were both in our middle 20’s and newly weds at that… actually I friended her husband first as my husband and I met him thru catholic charities for his service with the legal work he did as an attorney… My husband and I liked him immediately, he was always so happy, so proud of his new marriage, so proud of what he did, so eager to see us and help us in answering whatever questions we had. Every time we met him and asked him how he was he woudl answer ‘TERRRRRRIFIC” to which my husband would respond, “I want whatever you are having”. Writing that sounds unbelieable for so many reasons. One being that after he introduced me to his new wife, she and I became friends and to this day she remains my best friend some 22 yrs later… I don’t know if I am her best friend, but it doesn’t matter, I love her and will do anything for her anytime she asks me. Another reason is that he was to me, up until I had to let go of my anger, the most hated man in my life because he destroyed my friend, took her daughter away, and tried and still does indirectly hurt her to no end… and her now teenage daughter hurts her too because she’s a teenager, because she has grown up with her father and his money and knows it’s better to have that lifestyle than not, and because and mainly because as a mother, having our child fly away with the wings we taught them to have and in the most normal of circumstances, hurts, deeply but we want only the best for them, we want them to fly away, we want them to be happy… but it hurts. And when I see what happens to Norma and how she hurts for her daughter, and how she misses her all the time… I hurt for my friend.
My friend Norma is so different from me, we have completely different personalities. She looks at life with color, her glass is always half full, and she has in the worse circumstances pulled herself up with grace and dignity. With pride and love. I think I engulfed myself with so much hatred for her ex husband much more than she did… or perhaps for longer. So she’s healthier in spirit than I am. I will always be proud of her, and in doing so I might even ‘scold’ her daughter with sarcasm from time to time and many many times even bite my lip instead of responding to what I reallly want to tell her daughter in fear that my friend will not like that, she is her mother… so I have to stop… but it is only because I love my friend Norma, I am proud of her, I think she’s done a wonderful job at keeping her sanity, her incredible sense of humor, her beauty, her love for life.
She listens to me and says… ohhhhh stop… when she probably wants to say she’s just tired of my sadness, my anger, my cloud and lack of love for life… but still, she listens and can still make me laugh like no one else.
She leaves me messages on my cell phone with different accent voices that at first make me scared. The last message said she was calling to ask for past due payments of my ‘phone sex’ account and I panicked… then I thought, but why… I’ve never called such numbers!!!! I couldn’t recognize her voice… but then I laughed so hard… she can make me laugh
I’ve always been a nerd… Norma has always been the life of the party. Yet, I consider her my best friend and for the rest of my days will love that she came into my life and that she has allowed me to stay after all these years.
-Sandy Gamble-

Judith Rich June 17, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Dear Sally,
Pardon me while I open another box of Kleenex! What a wonderful tribute to your best friend! And what a blessing you are to her, I’m sure. I know from first-hand experience how we get caught up in each others’ dramas and come to disdain anyone who dares to hurt our friends. Sometimes, long after they’ve resolved the problem, we hold on to the grudge!
Norma sounds like a keeper! And now the two of you are “official” BFF’s! How cool is that? Many happy years of best friendship ahead for the two of you.
Love,
Judith

Norma June 17, 2009 at 11:21 AM

Girl, you messed up my make-up!!
This was so beautiful, you made me cry. I am amazed though, because you don’t even realize that you are the one that taught me about true friendship. YOU HELPED ME LIVE, WHEN I WANTED TO DIE, when my world fell apart. You gave me strength and the will to live. I will be forever grateful to you for everything you’ve done for me. And of course Honored to your best friend forever (BFF).
I love you girl, and I really do hope you realize how incredibly important you are to me.
-Norma –

Judith Rich June 17, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Norma,
I LOVE that you came on the site and responded to your BFF. The two of you make me cry, the good kind of cry. I guess that’s why they call it The Best, cause it is!
The BEST to you and your BFF,
Judith

Lisa Hmelar June 17, 2009 at 10:13 PM

What a perfect topic for today — my best friend’s birthday. I adore and celebrate Marty Bollman – best friend extraordinaire. Our friendship dates back 20 years from when we first met and worked together. I admire her for so many reasons. She’s lovely, generous, impeccably truthful, works hard to nourish her friendships, serves as a voice of reason during the crazy times, is self-directed, strives to live a purpose-filled life, is a domestic goddess, incredible chef, entertaining companion, adventurous traveler and mean card player. She’s always supportive of me and all her friends realizing our potential and encourages us to live big lives. She’s a life long learner with astounding curiousity for the world and all its people. What a lantern. She’s witnessed my life through joys, heartbreak, boom times and bust, and some pretty awful haircuts. I’d love to have a 10th of the grace she shares with the world. I could not ask for a better best friend.

Judith Rich June 18, 2009 at 7:25 AM

Dear Lisa,
I hope Marty reads this. What a wonderful tribute! Knowing Marty just a tad, I’d have to agree, she’s a pretty amazing woman. She inspires me with her curiosity and sense of adventure. I love how she’s ready to pick up and go explore a new part of the world, plant herself in a foreign country and create a life all by herself. And you’re right about the chef and card player parts.
Happy Birthday, Marty! You both are fabulous women who deserve each other as best friends.
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Lisa.
Love,
Judith

James M. Lynch July 2, 2009 at 8:53 AM

Judith,
I’m a little behind in my reading and am glad I chose this article to catch up. I started thinking ‘who would I sit on Puget Sound and unplug with’ and came up with a short list, but a good one, of friends I don’t see often but, even after a year of non contact with someone, get related as if we spoke every day. It’s nice to have a moment, inspired by your article, to stop and think about them and, as it happens, this week I’m seeing two of these lifetime friends.

Thanks for the reminder to contact them and appreciate them but also, the call to action to find my own ‘Puget Sound’ time from now on.
Best to you, my long time friend,

James

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