It is difficult to be a ‘friend.’  ‘Being there’ is their inner motto.

Dear Neighbor

I went to bed crying. I was 8 years old, and in the third grade. My dad just told me he had eight sincere, supportive and good friends. “That was all?” I thought.

I went to bed crying. I had 30 friends in my class. I also had my neighbors, my cousins, my Sunday school class and my park buddies.

I went to bed crying. I felt sorry for my father. He was old (in his forties). He wasn’t free to have as many friends as I did.

I went to bed crying. Now I am older. I am wiser and realize that eight friends is a good number. When I think of friendship, these thoughts come forth: responsibility, connectedness, support, trust, consistency, depth, tough-love, timelessness, empathy and a willingness to always listen.

I am not talking about emergency friendship. We all respond and come when needed. I mean the ability to consistently respond to who I am, come hell or high water. Friends get on my case when I wander, and they are the timeless colleague at the end of a text/email. They respond with empathy, love and trust. They jump for joy with me and wallow with me in the mud. They take calls in the middle of the night and support my weird thoughts and actions. And when I fail, they feel they have failed.

It is difficult to be a ‘friend.’  ‘Being there’ is their inner motto.  They even like you, when you are unlikeable.  When you are in pain, so are they.  

When I was four, I was very ill, and needed blood to live. My father called on four of his friends (during WWII), when blood was a prime commodity. They saved my life, and when my dad died, those four introduced  themselves to me. Their friendship never ended. It was timeless, always connected with such depth and trust.  

Being responsible is a star in friendships. Taking the time to keep in touch means I have to have the ability to respond. You empathize, not sympathize. Friends are family. Friends deserve your grace.

I too am now old, thank goodness I have friends. Eight now sounds like a good number.

Dear Neighbor” authors are united in a belief that civility and passion can coexist. We believe curiosity and conversation make us a better community.

Kim Porter