Sometimes we find ourselves in places we never thought we’d be.
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations we imagined only for others.
Sometimes we find ourselves in places so cold, so dark, so alone.
Time passes. More time passes. Even more time passes after that.
It’s still cold, it’s still dark, and we’re still alone.
After a while, the sheer volume of trauma and pain becomes almost unbearable, hard to believe, even for us in it, us who don’t have a choice.
So friends sift out. Because it’s too much to bear. Because they don’t know how to respond. Because it’s unbelievable. Because they don’t condone certain behaviors. Because they believe wrong paths have been chosen. Because they’re tired of hearing you talk about it all the time. Because they have their own lives to worry about. Because they want to believe life is all rainbows, puppies and butterflies. Because they don’t want to believe the fight of our lives is between good and evil. Because they don’t know how to sit in the center of someone else’s pain. Because it’s just way too stressful, too overwhelming, too emotionally taxing. Because it’s just too much. Because they believe there’s no hope anymore, no hope anyway.
Childhood friends, college friends, old friends, new friends, boyfriends, work friends, even church friends – they drift away, they’re sifted out – most slowly, a few suddenly.
Some days, some weeks, some months, some years, some many YEARS in a row – you’re drowning, and you need a whole crew of friends to swim out and rescue you.
But one day you wake up and realize there’s only ONE friend, two or three if you’re lucky.
It’s not ideal nor fair for ONE to shoulder the burden of care.
But really, it only takes ONE to believe the damage is repairable.
It only takes ONE to believe it’s possible.
It only takes ONE to hope, just a little.
It only takes ONE to throw a lifeline when you’re drowning in the storm.
And really, you only need ONE to sit on the shore with you and wait for the tide to pass.
So Briana? Today I want to thank you for being that ONE for my sister.
That halfway house wasn’t your run-of-the-mill place for a baby shower, nor the circumstances ideal for celebrating a mama-to-be and beautiful baby girl about to be born. None of us could have imagined any of it up.
But you showed up.
You were the ONE.
Your presence that day was a testament to true friendship. It was, perhaps, one of the most beautiful displays of friendship I’ve ever seen. You proved you’re the friend who’s there, even in the deepest of valleys. You proved you care, regardless of circumstances. You proved you’re willing to show up, even when it’s hard. Because real friends don’t just show up when life is running perfectly smoothly.
I’ve yet to fully process and understand that day, those weeks, those months, those years that proceeded and followed it. Nothing was “normal.” None of it was expected. And there was absolutely nothing ideal about any of it.
Circumstances had us at a halfway house for a baby shower, but there was an undeniable beauty about that moment. Me, mom, my sister, YOU, and a lot of ladies we didn’t know, who needed to know – there’s hope, reason to celebrate, always opportunity to circle around one another – giving thanks for the gifts we’ve received, the blessings we’ve yet to receive.
Thanking God for your model of true friendship,
SPECIAL NOTE: I want to take a moment to acknowledge that there are at least FOUR other friends I’ve personally seen show up in my sister’s life the past 9 1/2 years. I won’t name those individuals here, but I want you to know I’ve noticed your faithful and loving presence in her life. If you’ve read this far, you probably know who you are. Thank you.
*If you’d like to read more from my #31Days Letters to the Unthanked series, click here for the landing page where all the letters are listed and linked!
“At some of the darkest moments in my life, some people I thought of as friends deserted me – some because they cared about me and it hurt them to see me in pain; others because I reminded them of their own vulnerability, and that was more than they could handle. But real friends overcame their discomfort and came to sit with me. If they had no words to make me feel better, they sat in silence…and I loved them for it.” – Harold Kushner