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QUINTESSENCE

Friendship

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends...
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
with a little help from my friends...


- from "I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends," The Beatles


Recently we have been up at the lake in the panhandle of North Idaho, not far from the Canadian border. We have done our usual favorite things - swim, hike, run the trails, pick huckleberries, read and relax under the pine trees. But midweek in our vacation, my daughter, 23, drove the 100 or so miles back into town to support a friend of hers she has stayed close with since high school who was undergoing an unexpected surgery. During the time she was gone, I reflected on the strength of their friendship: that her friend even confided in my daughter about her upcoming surgery, that my daughter immediately made plans to be there for the early morning procedure, to be with the family, and sustain her friend with her simple presence. They are both remarkable young women studying in the life sciences. I paid quiet attention, watching the way my daughter marshaled her resources, worked family professional contacts at the hospital to find the perfect way to support her friend and her family. Her determination to rise early, make the drive through the mountains alone, wait with the family and help with the medical debriefing and explanations, to be with her friend post op. These are the characteristics of a mature and responsive adult. A person who cares.

I think one of the gifts of any youthful friendship that grows and endures, lies in the exposure to adult decision-making that accompanies any life journey. From confronting experiences that require understanding, tolerance, and forgiveness, weathering confusion or disagreement, to believing in the best of one another, accepting the distortions and complications of time, dating and marriage, distance... Young people who develop close attachments experience the challenges and rewards of adulthood in the companionship of that very same friendship. I do not personally know how my daughter's friend feels about her presence with her at the hospital, but I know from talking to my daughter that she experienced a profound awareness of herself and her friend, that even young as they are, they nonetheless live in the shadow of mortality, must endure the angst of waiting through the unknown, seek to optimize the power of information, skill, and in this case medicine, and lean on faith and one another. I think the gift of youthful friendships is that they become the pillars of a much older, weathered wisdom.

We love and learn together...with a "little help from our friends."
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