The other day a package arrived at my house. It was a box of things that my mom had given one of her friends. As precious as they were to my mom’s friend, she thought I should have them. That kind of generosity is probably why mom loved her. In the box there was a book of poems. It was tattered and worn, but its bright yellow cover and title caught my eye – “All Life is Holy. All Life Is One.” When I opened the little book there was a note from my mom to her friend … It said simply, “Thank you for being there for me.”
Those words touched me. The truth is the words made me cry. In part the tears came from the little boy who misses his mom. But mostly I cried because deep inside that’s what I’ve always tried to be for the people I love … there for them. It’s why I now share my life experiences in these blog posts … I just want to be there for those in need of a friend. So when I read those words written by my mom, it was as though she had written them for me. And that’s just a little too much for any man’s heart to take without a tear or two.
A few days after I got that package with the poems and the note from my mom, I went to a concert. I don’t go to many concerts because I’ve been to so many in my life as a promoter. But this one was special. A dear friend, a famous singer whose name I won’t mention because I’ve learned that when we’re trying to open our hearts famous names can be a distraction, called me and invited me to his show. I hadn’t seen my friend in many years, but we go way back; so when I got the call I was happy to see him for a visit.
During the show he sang some of his old songs, the ones from the time when we were both starting out in the concert business and began working together: I as a young promoter and he as a young artist. While he was taking a trip down memory lane I stood off to the side of the stage, in the same place I had always stood watching him perform, remembering all the good times we’d shared. My friend spotted me and made his way across the stage and onto a couple of audio crates next to me. He reached down, put his hand on my head and said gently, “I’m so glad you’re here.”
As I drove home that night I remembered the little tattered book of poems my mom had given her friend with the same message. I began to think about the idea of just being there for someone. How it contrasts with our custom of always doing. That’s been the story of my life – always busy doing this or that. I’d promoted my friend’s concerts for well over a decade and yet, after all we’d done together, he was touched by the simple fact that I was there for him … just like my mom and her friend.
When my mom was sick with cancer I learned about being there … being truly present. In her final days, my sister and I would sit with her, stroking her hair while her chest rattled. It was an annoying sound, and I remember wishing it would stop; then when it did stop I remember wishing with all my heart that I could hear it again – that my mom would breathe just one more time. Those days taught me to be present, mainly because there was nowhere else to be. Every second mattered, because the seconds were numbered and I knew I might never have another one with her. I’d like to think I was there for her then, but maybe it was my mom who was there for me — to teach her little boy how to be here now for himself and for others.
I think that’s what friendship really is: having someone there, wherever or whatever “there” is at a particular moment. There to hold your hand when you’re scared. There to comfort you with tender words when your heart is sad. There to share a story when advice is what you need. But mostly there, just there, to simply be.
So many of us feel alone, even when we’re surrounded by people we call friends. Inside we still feel alone, misunderstood, and afraid. We worry that telling those we love about our fears will make them think less of us. We wonder if anyone else feels the way we do. We convince ourselves that we are unique, that no one else hears the voices in their head, that we’re the only one who needs a good friend.
Open your heart and allow yourself to find a friend and to be a friend to someone as well … by simply being there.
This week I invite you to connect with that part of yourself – the part that needs a friend. Look inside, become intimate with the little child inside looking for someone to play with, and then look for that in other people you know. Open yourself to the possibility that you are not alone, that everyone you know feels exactly the same way. From that place, open your heart and allow yourself to find a true friend and to be a friend to someone as well.
Thank you for being here with me now.
Big hugs of love,