I still remember that day. The sky was crystal clear. All the plants in the garden were wrapped with yellow and white flowers. “The best garden in the entire universe,” I might have said that again and again. I accompanied my mom to her best friend Aunt K’s house for the first time in my life. My mom told me many stories about Aunt K’s house and garden where she spent a large part of her childhood, playing hide and seek, chasing the bees and drinking nectar from honeysuckle. Her memory was fresher than those blooming beauties of the garden. Her eyes twinkled each time she remembered her childhood in that garden during the story telling.
Aunt K is my mom’s childhood friend and my mom fondly remembers each story she has with her, each moment is a picture perfect story that she rekindles every now and then.
When aunt K lost her husband, my mom cried like she lost her own brother. She took me again to aunt K’s house, they exchanged life’s complex lessons and simple workouts. Then they transformed all tears to smiles using some magic that I forgot to notice. I remember what my mom said that day during the drive back home, “There will be difficult moments in life. You cannot escape those. But you’ll find a true friend beside you during those moments. Friends are like fireflies, they lighten up your dark fears and worries.”
I remember those lines just like I remember all simple lessons from mom’s experiences. I have saved them on an invisible notepad, because true wisdom told with honesty is hardly something that money can buy.
It was my mom who taught me the value of friendship. And I think I took that lesson too seriously, until I perceived the fact that friendship was no more a countable noun in my life after a certain phase.
I had many friends who were there just for a season or a reason. I made friends who stayed by me in every summer, autumn, winter and spring. Sometimes the friendship clicked within a second. Sometimes each meeting unfolded new chapters of each other’s lives and we kept reading and knowing each other. After all life is the best book. Understanding a human life surely equals to reading a hundred books.
I have seen the changes in friendship. I have seen changes in friends. One really cannot help with the transitions people go through and what they become after that. If I could count friends by numbers then I might have had a thousand good friends in life. That means a thousand good people. I cannot be more grateful to them for their active and passive contributions to my life. And….. while friendship is that great and sweet, it certainly carries expiry date unless some people take silent vows to be there for each other until death. Just like Aunt K and my mom. My dad and Uncle R and Uncle J and Uncle P. I remember the silence of days and nights in my dad’s life when uncle R died. To everyone that silence meant sadness; but when I looked into my dad’s eyes, I found that silence meaning betrayal and pain of loneliness. I learned that day that true friendship does not die, even after the death of a friend.
Seeing those kinds of friendship in real life, I never had to open a dictionary to travel to F and the fanciest word with it- Friendship.
In thirties, when everything around me is pretty clear and rational, I know now what the words friendship and friend mean. My friends are clearly those people who have been the co-passengers during my life’s craziest roller coaster rides. They are like those fireflies that my mom mentioned to me. On the other hand friendship is that happiness that I feel when a very old and good friend sends pictures of glaciers and other natural beauties of Canada and shares stories of whole Canada: food, life and every small thing in details. To me, friendship is in being there for friends even while staying miles apart. It’s in a friend’s good morning wish on a scary day. It’s in staying in someone’s thoughts and doing the same for that person. It’s in sharing older jokes and newer comedies of life. It’s in those light moments when we laugh at our personal tragedies and thank life for showing us another sunrise. It’s in knowing unknown road names of European countries that most probably I will never visit; they are not unknown anymore because of my friends’ footsteps and shared stories. It’s in accepting a friend’s truth while wiping her tears. It’s in sharing the strength of characters and common sense. It’s in sharing a cake’s picture after baking it for the first time, without hiding its imperfect look and terrible taste.
I don’t have a thousand friends anymore. Life has filtered most of them out, kept the good ones close, and marked all experiences. I don’t talk to a lot of friends all the time, because we all are occupied with other things. I don’t even check friends’ Facebook pictures to know what they are up to. But whenever we talk, we feel that invisible string that kept us connected for so many years.
The word friendship sounds intelligible nowadays. I am glad that it does not confuse me like it did during early twenties and high school years. I am glad I still fall for the word “Friendship” so religiously. I am glad that I could understand what my mom said to me that day. I am glad that I have stories too.