We make friends throughout our lives, friends from childhood, school, sports, work, volunteer work, church, through our children, through other friends, while traveling, wherever we find them. They are there to share our joys, our triumphs, our ups and our downs. We build our friendships through conversations and shared memories. Some are casual, some are deep. All have a place in our lives and in our hearts.

I keep hearing Dionne Warwick singing in my head, the lyrics repeating themselves over and over. . .

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

In a week full of personal memories, I think of all the friends who were there for me when I faced the hardest challenges in my life, for all the friends who did things I never would have thought I needed but did, and I’m grateful, feeling blessed. I was thinking that it’s sometimes easier to help strangers, to give a contribution to someone you will never see, than really deal with the heartbreak of someone, family or friend, close to you, known to you.

Earlier this week, I asked my young friend who is facing brain cancer with strength beyond my capability what I could do for her or for her mother. She has moved out of her mother’s apartment into the home of friends, a couple with a young child, who are taking care of her in ways her mother cannot. They are sitting with her 24 hours a day, giving her medicine every two hours for seizures, heart medicines, the husband pounding on her back as the doctors showed him when her breathing is difficult, helping her stay alive until the day she may need hospice. They write songs and sing together, which helps her lungs. I took her some things they needed and watched in awe the gentleness and love in that home. Her mother is helping care for her five year old during the times she is not strong enough to deal with being a mother as she fights for every day, knowing that helps her mother, too. It was total unselfishness on every level.

There are friends in our lives who are sometimes more like family, or like family should be. We can’t all do everything every time because there are other things in our lives, other circumstances, and that doesn’t make us less of a friend. But, let’s hope we all rise to the need of our friends, even when it’s not fun or we don’t have time or it’s not economically practical or makes us way too sad or is frightening to deal with, as often as we can. Because that’s what friends are for.

Here is my friend surrounded by her angels. . .