“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
-E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
Lillian & Eliot,
Let’s talk about friendship. What it means to be a friend. What it means to have a friend.
Friendship, true and deep and lasting friendship, does not come easy, nor does it come naturally. It is not second nature to make yourself vulnerable. And, friendship is vulnerability. It is a series of leaps and hopes and prayers until the leaps and hopes and prayers become so second nature that you don’t hold your breath anymore. Vulnerability becomes second nature. In friendship you are set free.
At your age, friendship is easy, yet complicated, fickle, yet forever. Does this make sense? In a single afternoon, you will make friends with children who were formerly strangers while “de-friending” each other and your very best friends. You will worry that a best friend will never be your friend again and lament that you “don’t have any friends!” A minute will pass and you are off – friends again and all is well with the world. These are still simple times, and hurt feelings never last long. As you grow older, this will change. You will no doubt have your heart broken by friendship. Even as I write this, I remember vividly the pain of that. But, it is necessary. And it will stretch you in ways that you can’t imagine. And, you will be better for it. Trust me on this. It gets better.
You will learn from the friendships you form, even those that don’t last. You will find parts of yourselves in others, while discovering that some things are non-negotiable. In this way, you will, hopefully, learn to be flexible while still remaining centered and strong. You will learn the value of loyalty and the blessing in reveling in another’s joy. You will most likely feel the sting of betrayal, and the shame in betraying. Through this, you will discover the importance of grace extended and accepted. You will learn that friendship is both give and take, and some friendships are lifelong while others are meant only for a season.
Your friends will influence you mightily. As a mother, this is something that frightens me a bit. But, I am confident that you will navigate the waters of friendship (and the world!) just fine. You will, I hope, always have each other (and always count one another as a friend). Once you are my age, you may very well look back and remember the different stages of your life in the stories of your friendships. I know I do. I am intensely grateful for each and every good friendship I have had. To say that they were varied is an understatement. But, all of the really good ones had common threads. Kindness. Reciprocity of vulnerability. Loyalty. Laughter. Generosity in forgiveness. True presence and a willingness to show up again and again and again. And, my current friendships, they are sacred. They are everything.
Right now, your best friends – Ruby and June – are the daughters of my best friend. And, your friendship is important to us. We want the four of you to grow up together and to grow into a beautiful friendship. That is our hope. But, if it turns out today or tomorrow that you don’t like each other, not even a little bit, you will have to get over it. Because, she is completely essential to my life. And, I believe she feels the same way about me. That, my girls, is friendship.
Always and forever wishing you God’s peace,
* I am so honored to have joined this group of talented photographers in documenting our journeys as mothers to our daughters through letters and accompanying imagery. Next in our circle of letters is the talented Stephanie Tueller. Read her letter here. And, if you feel so moved, do leave some love in the form of a comment. *