Friday, March 16, 2007

One Who Is Loving

What is friendship? Well, according to my google search, friendship is:

  • the state of being friends
  • Friendship is a type of interpersonal relationship that is found among humans and among animals with rich intelligence, such as the higher mammals and some birds. Individuals in a friendship relationship will seek out each other's company and exhibit mutually helping behavior.

    And when I looked up "friend", this is what I discovered:

  • This Anglo-Saxon word was originally derived from a verb form meaning, literally, beloved, or, one who is loving.
  • a person you know well and regard with affection and trust; "he was my best friend at the university"
  • ally: an associate who provides assistance; "he's a good ally in fight"; "they were friends of the workers"
  • acquaintance: a person with whom you are acquainted; "I have trouble remembering the names of all my acquaintances"; "we are friends of the family"
  • supporter: a person who backs a politician or a team etc.; "all their supporters came out for the game"; "they are friends of the library"

  • a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?

    Word History: A friend is a lover, literally. The relationship between Latin amīcus "friend" and amō "I love" is clear, as is the relationship between Greek philos "friend" and phileō "I love." In English, though, we have to go back a millennium before we see the verb related to friend. At that time, frēond, the Old English word for "friend," was simply the present participle of the verb frēon, "to love." The Germanic root behind this verb is *frī-, which meant "to like, love, be friendly to." Closely linked to these concepts is that of "peace," and in fact Germanic made a noun from this root, *frithu-, meaning exactly that. Ultimately descended from this noun are the personal names Frederick, "peaceful ruler," and Siegfried, "victory peace." The root also shows up in the name of the Germanic deity Frigg, the goddess of love, who lives on today in the word Friday, "day of Frigg," from an ancient translation of Latin Veneris diēs, "day of Venus."
    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    So there we have it, that is the definition of a friend. Reading that reminds me that some of my relatives are also my friends. And some of my friends, well, they are actually just people I know. And as I sit thousands of miles and at least 12 time zones away from my loved ones, feeling sometimes excommunicated, often out of the loop, and frequently unable to help in any meaningful way when help is needed, it forces me to once again remind myself what friendship is. As I watch my closest friends struggle with depression, lack of accomplishment, feeling unloved, raising children alone, vanquished dreams, loss of loved ones and a myriad of other damaging and disappointing circumstances, I am faced with the reality of my own humanity. You see, if I could, I would raise the dead, make dreams come true, change people and heal bodies and hearts. But, I am not Jesus, nor am I a genie with three wishes to grant. I am a supporter, a person you know well and regard with affection and trust, an ally, a person on good terms with another, one who is loving. I am a friend.

    If you ask my mother, she would say that I have always had an unhealthy reliance or dependence on people, and this was especially problematic when it came to my friends. She tried, fruitlessly, to break me of this in order to spare me a lifetime of pain. Friendship brings pain. Loving hurts sometimes, and the people you love have access to hurt you like none others. They know just where the knife cuts deepest, and when they pick up that knife, well, we all know what happens. And even the things that aren't related to you can hurt. It hurts to see the people you love hurt themselves in order to try and ease their pain. It hurts just as much to see them struggle, and still come up short. It hurts to stand by as they make decisions for the now that bring damaging repercussions in the later. It hurts that they are in pain, or struggling, or barely keeping their head above water. It hurts to have people you love walk away. It hurts when you are the one that has to walk away. Friendship, good, tried and true, down for the count, got my back, laugher doubling, tear dividing friendship - it holds potential for amazing amounts of pain. And like any good parent, my mother wanted to spare me of this pain.

    But alas, here I am, at least 12 times zones away, crying tears that are not my own. These are not tears lamenting injustice in the world, or my own helplessness. These are not tears full of words, tears meant for other ears. No, these are the tears that one cries alone. Silent tears. Hot tears. And each teardrop is so heavy with pain, my tear ducts are straining under the weight. And I wish I could take the pain away. But I can't. Somewhere in the back of my mind, there is a voice saying I should pray, but I can't. I am trying to find the right words to say, but I can't. If could I'd fly and be there the next day, but I can't. And in my list of inability, I search for something to remind me of why these people, any one of them, has chosen to remain my friend, and why I have chosen to remain theirs. Because for each of us, this friendship was a choice, and there was some logic, some thought, behind this choice. This decision to remain a part of one another's lives.

    And this empowers me. For a friend is one who is loving. And so, I think of the things that mean love to them (flowers, notes, e-cards, phone-calls, gifts...the only one I can't do right now is a hug), and I speak to them in the language of love. As I said to a friend the other day, my loving them doesn't change a thing, except me, and sometimes, them. And she reminded me that sometimes, it just feels good to be loved. And maybe feeling loved is just what they need. And even if it doesn't change things, it is always a good thing to give, 'cause who ever complained about having too much love?

    And as I try my best to love you, I would just like to thank you. Thank you for all of the moments when you stood by me when you wanted to walk away. All of the times you kept suicidal demons at bay. Thank you for every time you wiped my tears and every occasion you calmed my fears. Thank you for every smile you put on my face. Thank you for every time you brightened my day. Thank you for forgiving my wrongs. Thank you for the times when you watched me hurt myself to try and erase my pain, and stood there until I was ready to hear what you needed to say. Thank you for loving me in spite of me, because of me, unconditionally. Thank you for every moment of tried and true, down for the count, got my back, laughter doubling, tear dividing friendship. Thank You.

    1 comment:

    Between the Sky and the Sea said...

    Oh Leiona.....I'm sitting at work with tears rolling down my eyes. I used to think friend was too light a word to use for the way I feel about you, but now I know it fits the bill. I love you--with no strings attached, through thick and through thin, when I'm mad and when I'm pleased, when I'm sad and when I'm glad--I call you friend. I love you so much, girl. Thanks for that entry. I NEEDED that. I finally sat down to read your blog while I ate breakfast. I'm not done yet and I'm running out to see a client but I had to respond right away. You are such a beautiful person. I'm honored to be loved by you.