Encyclopedia of Me Monday: F is for Friends

As an only child, I take my friendships pretty seriously. My closest friends become the siblings I will never have, and so I'm grateful for their willingness to share life's vicissitudes with me.Unlike siblings, however, friendships tend to come and go, don't they? Right now, I have a core group of three or four "fristers," women I have been through the fire with in one way or another, and women I know I can hail when the flames start licking at my feet. But, twenty years ago, my inner circle was comprised of completely different women. For various reasons, these women have disappeared from my life. With one exception, my best friends right now are all significantly older than I. With no exceptions, my relationship with each one developed through music, and each one I considered a mentor before I considered them a friend. Sometimes I wonder what that says about me. Often, I feel that I get more than I give from our relationships. These women are strong, independent, and talented. And, for some reason, they have swooped me under their wing, nurtured my talents, and encouraged me to cultivate my abilities. How lucky am I? My friend Leigh, at 41 years of age, the youngest of my BFF's, recently gave birth to her second child. When she told me she was pregnant, she said, "I kept thinking about what you once told me -that one of your biggest regrets in life was having only one child. And I thought I'd better do something about that before it was too late for me."Wow. That was pretty huge for me, to think that my experience could have made such an impact on another woman's life. Reflecting on that, and on all that I've gained from my relationships with each of these women, I feel humbled by the power of friendship, of what we can give to each other, often without even realizing it. And I also feel a little frightened, knowing that sometimes friendships are vulnerable to loss for all kinds of reasons. Time, distance, illness - all of these can stretch the bonds of friendships, until they eventually break and fade away.

As I age, my hope is to one day influence the life of a younger woman in the way my friends have influenced me - to be a source of inspiration as well as companionship, an educator as well as a buddy, someone to respect and admire as well as someone to gossip and giggle with.

Friends. A good entry to have in the Encyclopedia of Me.