I’ve been thinking about friendship lately because relationships between friends (and family) underpin the stories I write. In parallel with the central romance, my heroes and heroines are part of a larger cast of characters and a community (in my current series, the small town of Firefly Lake), where they find support and caring.
When we’re small, we make friends easily. As we get older, though, both time and circumstances mean it’s harder to make new friends and also maintain friendships once important to us.
When my daughter, English Rose, was at nursery school, her friendships changed in what seemed to me like the blink of an eye. To some extent now as an almost teen, that’s still the case. Today’s BFF may still be her BFF next month but maybe not next year.
My childhood friendships were based on proximity (school and neighbourhood), shared hobbies and, in certain cases, adversity. When you’re the athletically challenged, class bookworm as I was, you gravitate toward other like souls even if you don’t have much else in common.
Adult friendships are more complex but, as I thought about it when depicting a friendship in my work in progress, those friends we make as adults are based on some of the same principles that were the starting points for childhood friendships.
Whether through a physical neighbourhood or virtual community, my adult friends are those with whom I have some kind of proximity and shared interest. In the past year, I’ve been blessed with many new friends through my writing career. But where those friendships have deepened, there have been other points of commonality beyond writing—for example, family concerns or shared values.
Many of my adult friends have also come into my life at times of adversity. Whether through a challenging job situation or navigating the sometimes murky waters of parenthood, friends experiencing the same thing have helped me through.
It’s also times of adversity, and especially seasons of family illness, loss and grief, which have shown me the true friends I can count on.
As when I was a child, my adult friendships have waxed and waned, but one of the hallmarks of a real friend is someone with whom you can reconnect no matter how much time or distance have passed. In the last years of her life, my mom reconnected with friends from childhood and those friendships sustained her when she needed them most.
This week, I had an email from a friend I hadn’t heard from in almost a year. Her life had hit a rough patch and it was only now she felt able to reconnect. That unexpected email was both a joy and blessing and reminded me of other important truths about friendship. Although real friends may go away for a while, they never truly disappear, and it’s far too easy to lose touch with what’s really happening in a friend’s life.
For some of us, the best friends of all are our beloved pets. As I said to a virtual friend on my author Facebook page this week, dogs accept us, don’t judge and love unconditionally. What more can we ask of any friend whether two-legged or four?
And as for new friends like those I’m making in my new town? They’re new blessings bringing exciting possibilities.
The strands of friendship both with people and pets are woven through my life and fiction. Mindful of my word of the year, I’m grateful.
How has friendship shaped your life?
My childhood best friend, my dog, still remembered with love.