Friendships. Girlfriends. “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake” by Anne Quindlen. (June 2012)

Susan's Thursday morning note June 7, 2012
Friendship - Quotes & thoughts on "girlfriends" by Anne Quindlen.
Good morning!  Yesterday morning I went to pour my coffee, and had forgotten to add the coffee to the filler, so just had murky hot water.  How is it that we are to complete the 3-4 step process of making our coffee if we haven’t had our caffeine?  Today, better luck – black coffee added to a cupful of cream.  Perfect combination for completing today’s note!  Last week I brought home a book that I ordered for one of you, one that looked so good I put two in the shopping cart.  Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen, known to me for two of her other short books, How Reading Changed My Life and A Short Guide to a Happy Life.  This is her recent release where each chapter discusses random topics, including “Stuff” (the difference between the car we unloaded when we had all of our belongings within it after high school vs. her full home now), “Next of Kin” – describing her marriage, and a chapter I want to write out of for you today, Girlfriends.  Following some of her thoughts on what friends are to her I have found some favorite quotes on friendships.  It’s hard to decide what to leave out, so with the hope of not offending, I’ll just leave all that I want to copy included.
Girlfriendsbut if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, or, more important, her months and years, how she stays steady when things get rocky, who she calls when the doctor says”I’d like to run a few more tests”…she will mention her girlfriends.  The older we get, the more we understand that the women who know and love us – and love us despite what they know about us-are the joists that hold up the house of our existence.  Everything depends on them.
...there are friendships worth fighting for.  And sometimes, of course, there are those that are not.  Over the course of our lives friends fall away, sometimes because they were never really more than friendly acquaintances, sometimes because of differences in circumstance.  And in the end we wind up with the friends who really stick.  Being female, we pride ourselves on doing for them, on listening to them complain or cry, on showing up with a cake or a casserole and taking charge when disaster strikes.  But the measure of our real friends, our closest friends, is that we let them do the same for us.  We’ve been taking charge for decades; to let go, to take help instead of charge, is the break point of friendship. 
One of the most important parts of tending our friendships is working our way, over time, into the kind of friendships that can support cataclysm, friendships that are able to move form the office or the playground to hospital rooms and funerals.  Some of my married friends are widows now, and some are single, and some have lost parents and had kids who were lost to them for a while.  And even those of us who so far have been relatively unscathed know how important the bonds of love are, how they make a net so we don’t hit the ground when we fall from the wire.  We’ve all prevailed on the individuality front, know without thinking that we are distinct, specific, perhaps even at this time in our lives a little on the eccentric side.  So we’re free to embrace community, that sense of being part of something bigger and more powerful than ourselves.  Or perhaps it’s that we stand between two enormous forces.  On the one side are the difficult and demanding events to come, the losses, the illnesses, the deaths.  You can see them out on the horizon like a great wave, its whitecaps approaching.  But on the other hand is a levee that protects us, that of the women we can call anytime, day or night, to say, “I’m drowning here.”
…What will we talk about?  What did we talk about?  Who knows?  Who cares?  It’s the presence at the other end of the line that matters: reliable, loving, listening, caring, continuing.  What would I do without her?
Misc. Quotes on Friendship.

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.  True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.  George Washington

Silences make the real conversations between friends.  Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts.  Margaret Lee Runbeck

You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he or she doesn't feel you've done a permanent job.  Laurence J. Peter

Good friendships are fragile things and require as much care as any other fragile and precious thing.  Randolph Bourne 

My friends have made the story of my life.  In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation.  Helen Keller

The friend of my adversity I shall always cherish most.  I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.  Ulysses S. Grant

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to us when we discover that someone else believes in us and is willing to trust us with a friendship.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  "Pooh?" he whispered.  "Yes, Piglet?"  "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand.  "I just wanted to be sure of you."  A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.  Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

"We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?" asked Piglet.  "Even longer," Pooh answered.  A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.  C.S. Lewis.  The Four Loves

 How many slams in an old screen door?  Depends on how loud you shut it.  How many slices in a bread?  Depends how thin you cut it.  How much good inside a day/  Depends how good you live 'em.  How much love inside a friend?  Depends how much you give 'em.  Shel Silverstein

 "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

 Stay is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary.  Louisa May Alcott

 There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.  P.G. Wodehouse

 A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.  Maya Angelou

 Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.  Socrates

 "Are you upset little friend?  Have you been lying awake worrying?  Well, don't worry...I'm here.  The flood waters will recede, the famine will end, the sun will shine tomorrow, and I will always be here to take care of you.  Charles M. Schulz

 No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books."  Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers.  In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting - any of these chances might have kept us apart.  But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances.  A secret master of ceremonies has been at work.  Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another."  The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out.  It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others."  C.S. Lewis

 I am treating you as my friend, asking you to share my present minuses in the hope that I can ask you to share my future plusses.  Katherine Mansfield

Ah, how good it feels!  The hand of an old friend.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 "I don't feel very much like Pooh today," said Pooh.  "There, there," said Piglet.  "I'll bring you tea and honey until you do."  A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
A few years ago I listened to one of you (grin) speak at a Mother-Daughter banquet.  The speech was on “bloom where you’re planted” and the thoughts have made a permanent imprint on my thinking.  The basic idea – some friends are annuals & some are perennials.  We as women often think that if a friendship seems to come to a close, or go dormant, or change in general, we often feel like we did something to not continue what was important.  That we need to keep all friendships fresh, close.  We feel guilt at not contacting someone we loved 10 years ago, etc.  This was refuted with the idea that God gives us different friends in our life.  The perennials come and go all through our life.  Maybe 10 years between contacts, maybe 30 years, maybe one day, but the friend is constant, picking up with ease every time the reconnection comes.  Then there are annual friends.  These are still to cherish and realize that they were significant, but that these friends were a gift from God for a particular season of our life.  Maybe a specific place we lived, a time we went through changes (moving, deaths, births, losses & hardships, joys).  The interesting idea, though, is that they were  beautiful for the time, but only for the time.  It’s okay that the friendship and contact came to a halt.  It doesn’t mean we should feel guilt.  But instead, realize that friend was an annual friend.  Gift for that season of our life. 
Often in the store new women to our area will come in.  We all seek friendships.  Oh, the frustration of all of us at one time or another to find a dear friend.  I am convinced that no amount of dinners, teas, walks, etc. will give us the friend we so desperately desire as girls.  What I believe is they there is a moment when all of a sudden dear friends are born.  The moment of intense joy, intense pain, a moment.  When both are in the same place at the same time.  “A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.” So, until the “moments” come, we will continue to find our friends always in books, our dearest friend on our knees and when we look to the heavens.  I love the quotes above.  I love Poo & Piglet.  I loved them all, as I hope you do, too.  Have a great week.  Look into other’s eyes.  Know all we see have a story.  All have events going on that will possibly never be spoken of, but a look of kindness from us may be what gets them through the day.  We have the gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Will we grant some the gift of silence, some the pleasure of an Oreo Blizzard, others for watching the busy little ants outside our door?  Time.  Our beautiful gift.  Susan
Works Cited:
Quindlen, Anna.  Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.  New York.  Random House.  2012.