Friendship, and what it means to be a friend, has been on my mind a lot lately. It's so easy to take people for granted, to assume they'll be around until you're ready to call or stop by, but as many of you know, that's not the case.
I've always prided myself on being the friend that makes the effort. Before moving to Mexico, I was the one who sent the birthday cards, called spontaneously, coordinated nights out so we can all see each other. Obviously I'm not the only person like that, but since high school I've battled feelings of resentment when I feel like I am the only one who cares. Does that stop me? No. I still make the calls and check in on people because I want them in my life. There are people that I've distanced myself from because the effort is no longer worth it, but ever the worrier, I still think about those people all the time.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with all this. Some of you already know, but in the past 4-5 months we've lost three of our friends. At the end of the fall, Anastasia, who we knew from salsa dancing, died of colon cancer. She was really Ibis' friend, but the pain of her death still affected me. In January, our good friend Vivian Wong (also from salsa dancing) succumbed to breast cancer. Her death hit me particularly hard because she'd hidden from all of us that she was even sick. I feel guilty for not doing more, for not calling more often, and now I can't ever take that back. Both women were in their 40s.
On Monday a friend from college, Chris Carter, died. He slipped into a diabetic coma on Saturday and never regained consciousness. In his case, I don't think he even knew he was diabetic and his death has sent my friends reeling. His funeral is today and I wish them peace.
I've made a big effort in the last year or so to cut negativity from my life. Some of this was prompted by my own health concerns and a need to reduce stress, but moving to another country really teaches you a lot about who your true friends are, and who you can count on when you truly need them. It hasn't always been easy, but I feel closer to my good friends than I did when I lived down the street from them. I've also rediscovered old friends, both through my blog and on facebook. Since I moved a lot as a kid, it's been wonderful finding the people who helped make me who I am.
I swear I have a point. Last night I witnessed an interaction between friends (yes, I'm protecting identities here) that left me speechless. The callousness with which one friend treated the other, and the complete disregard for her feelings, stunned me. I truly don't understand how some people behave the way they do. Now one of them is hurting and I feel a need to fix it, even though it's not my problem.
What I'm trying to get across is how strongly I feel about valuing your friendships. A lot of my college friends are devastated by Chris' death, and while I wasn't close with him, it's unsettling to have someone your own age die so quickly for health reasons. I sent a lot of emails this week checking in on my own friends, just to let them know I care. (And if I didn't send you one, I swear I've been thinking about you. I do a lot of thinking when I'm alone ten hours a day.)
Finally, I'd like to thank all of you for being my friend. Many of you I've never met in person, and until last week never even heard your voice, but you've become my support system, and I'm grateful for it.
ETA: Warning - the comments have turned into a bit of a lovefest...