I remember a conversation I had with a friend in college. We concluded that a friend isn’t the person that flocks to you at your most catastrophic moment, but the person that unexpectedly offers to walk ten minutes out of their way to pick up the notebook you forgot but frantically need for your next class. For some reason, this conversation has always stuck with me.
This week has been one of those really trying ones. It was a week of stressful work commitments. It was a week when the summer nanny I hired two months ago said she had something come up and she was no longer available two weeks before her start date. It was a week when my dad collapsed in a grocery store parking lot and I had to gently coerce him over the phone from thousands of miles away that his collapse and ongoing chest pain were both very valid reasons for him to please go to the local emergency department. (I did not win this battle, and ultimately had to beg his friend to just go to my parents’ house and give him no choice but to be taken to the emergency department.) It was a week when I had to be steady and calm for my mom who is shaken by having witnessed my dad fall unconscious on the cement ground, not knowing what to do or how to help him. Yesterday, I hit an all-time week low, when I was trying so hard to get some sleep, any sleep, before my overnight shift, and felt close to my tipping point. It was like I had hit a hard stop. I thought to myself, “I can’t. I just can’t do this.”
This mom thing. This work thing. This juggling-of-all-aspects-of-life thing. Damn, is it hard. I can barely keep together the day-to-day; then add anything on top of that, and I am sure to topple.
So what exactly pulled me through? It goes without saying–though it is always worth saying–that the majority of what pulls me through day in and day out is my husband. Always my husband. But I was surprised this week at what I needed to pull me through. And that was friendship.
I was pulling into the work parking lot, when I parked the car and saw the flash of a banner across my phone notifying me of a new e-mail. I saw it was from our summer-nanny-to-be. I read her apologetic words of why she could no longer be our nanny this summer, and my heart sank. In that moment’s emotional outburst, I reached out to a friend that I knew could relate. Later, my mind still reeling, I reached out to another friend. Within 12 short hours, I had three potential new summer nannies thanks to friends that somehow took it upon themselves to help me find a replacement, and another friend willing to drop everything and spend weeks with my kids. I have no words for what their rallying on my behalf meant to me. There I was, feeling defeated and incredulous, and there they were, walking that ten minutes (okay, more than that) out of their way to bring me the notebook that I so desperately needed in that not-crisis but not-inconsequential moment. It was nothing dramatic. It was nothing worthy of gossip. But there they were. Friends. Delivering friendship in its greatest form.
There is a feeling that comes with friendship. It is hard to describe in one word. It is feeling accepted. Feeling you belong. Feeling respected for who you are. Feeling prioritized. Feeling loved. All of this in one bundle of goodness.
I have said thank you to my friends that pulled me through this tough week. But saying thank you makes me feel sheepish when I mean so much more than thank you. What I want to say is that I’ll remember that you brought my notebook to class for me, and next time, without a moment’s hesitation, I’ll bring you yours.