Friday, December 17, 2010

A friend indeed (#reverb10 Day 16)

December 16 – Friendship 
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

Earlier this year, I got dishwasher powder in my eyes. I had just turned the lid on the powder compartment a bit too fast, and it was a bit too full - poof! A puff of powder blew up toward my face and, like they were magnets, coated my eyes. It may not sound like a big deal - I didn't take it seriously at first, either. But when 20 minutes of clearing with water found them still burning, a call to poison control confirmed that I would need to go to emergency. Did you know that dishwasher powder is basically sand and acid? Me either! 

We have two small children, and I clearly couldn't drive myself. We have no family in town. Right away, I knew the only person I was comfortable calling. My 3-doors-down neighbour, a woman I would be lucky to call a friend. 

Many times, she has reached out to me, and shyly, I've fumbled forward to accept her invitations, have meaningful conversations. But I rarely see her, and far less since my daughter was born. With work, kids, household, physical fitness and writing, I don't seem to find the time to invest in friendships. 

But this woman, my neighbour, she gives friendship for free. She doesn't wonder why I don't come more often, or take offense that I say I'd love to get together and then a month goes by. She is always happy to see me, always compassionate about my trials. She shares her own, openly. She takes joy in helping other people. She is someone who comes through, is there for you. For me. She has many reasons to be angry with the world, and she picks love anyway.

Twice now, I've been seriously hurt and needed to go to emergency. Twice it was her that I called. And she didn't blink.

My own family, they blink. It's not that they're not there for me, it's that they feel the imposition and I feel them feel it and that is intolerable to me. Even my very close friend, blinks. I know I often blink too. 

I will always come through for people in my life, but whether I feel it as "I must be there for this person because they need me" or "I am so glad that I can be here for this person" makes a big difference. I can choose. 

I have a lot of trouble asking for help, and any whiff of "must" on the part of the other person will cause me to back off the ask so fast that they couldn't help me if they wanted to. I abhor obligation. My neighbour is one of very few people in the world that I believe to be genuine in her happiness to help me when I need it, and her complete lack of associated expectations. She just expects me to graciously accept her help, and it's the least I can do.

She taught me that she exists, which is important for my hope. She taught me to graciously accept help graciously offered. She reminded me that I could try harder to be a friend, to be the kind of person that you don't mind asking for help because you know, just know, that I love to do it for you. That I am grateful for the chance to help.

She probably has no idea of her impact. I could tell her. I hope I do it soon.