April 9, 2011
I didn't know that friend was a verb until Erin.
I'm not talking about the Facebook action where you make a connection and agree to give access to your wall, photos, and comments to someone you love, interact with regularly, just met, or never met but have some reason to want to interact with socially (but electronically).
I'm not talking about the concept of befriending, where you you find an injured bird and keep it in a cardboard box until it can fly away.
Erin looked for the friend in almost everyone she met--even people, who on the surface didn't seem that friend-able or friend-ly. I think most people who met her felt that warmth of friendship with her.
Beyond that, though, the verb "friend" also applies to the many, many demonstrations of friendship that the people in her life extended to her on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis over the course of her entire epic illness.
Her friends (too many to name and too awkward to risk leaving someone out) embraced her early and often. They included her in everything, not as an afterthought or on instructions from some adult to be nice to the cancer kid. They did what we all want people to do to us. They took her as she was--sometimes pale, occasionally bald, often just different. They willingly spent long, dull days with her at the clinic, tolerated the long drives and heavy traffic, and contented themselves with whatever unfolded. They never made excuses, but showed up ready for whatever she was up for.
In December of 6th grade, she had to make a powerpoint (in Spanish) about her family, but she couldn't resist including this (not all of her friends, certainly, but the ones she could find photos of on short notice):
And the concept of friend didn't have an age cut off. Her adult friends were just as stalwart, and I think, valued her friendship just as much as she did.
Walter and I, too, grew in our understanding of friend, and we could not have functioned during Erin's illness nor after without the incredible love that our friends (and I count this broadly to include our friends who are related to us, those who we see often, those we rarely see, and in some cases, those we have never met face-to-face) have extended at every bend in the road and every moment we have needed them (and in the many moments we did not know our own need).
I have heard people say that in illness and tough times their friends were not there for them, but for us that has not been the case. Our friend circle has grown and strengthened. They (you) have stood by us, even when it would have been easier to shed us from their (your) lives and move on. Friend--an action that can not be underestimated. Thank You!
And brooke, thank you: http://www.rivervision.com/upwp/?p=2337