I had lunch with an old friend yesterday who I have known now for thirteen years. She and I worked together at my first firm when I moved here from California. She and I became grandmothers the same year and the partner she worked for affectionately coined our side of the office, “Grandmothers Row”. After a couple of years, I moved on to a new job, she and I kept in touch, meeting for lunch a couple of times a year.
Our lives have not intersected in the way that it does on a daily basis when you work with someone who you are close to; that you becomes friends with. We don’t share the day-to-day events of our lives, or the “what happened this weekend” accounts on Monday mornings when you are getting your coffee or having your leftovers from Sunday dinner in the lunch room. In this world, where nothing stays the same, jobs change, families evolve, sickness looms, “life happens!”, you manage your friendships as you can.
This last year has been particular hard on my friend, and I hugged her when we said our goodbyes, promising we would have an early New Years’ celebration, tossing out 2012 for her and bringing in 2013, in the hopes the new year will be better for her. The reality of friendship, as in most relationships, is you are stoutly reminded of your limitations to affect the circumstances of life…your own and those you are close to. I felt that reality yesterday when I listened to the emotion in my friend’s voice. It made my voice catch as I told her “I don’t even know what to say”.
Thinking of that moment, now, I am grateful I was there to listen, to share some space, without giving in the knee-jerk reaction of comforting platitudes. I listened, I comforted, and knowing, I was powerless in the face of what my friend had been through and was still going through, I was quiet, for a change.