When my daughter was younger she had a wonderful core of friends. There were five total. For eight years they saw each other through thick and thin.
On my daughter’s 11th birthday we all spent the entire day and night celebrating at the state fair grounds in Phoenix. Add to that a two hour drive each way. It was a memory I’ll never forget. By then I’d known each for a year but never had I enjoyed this much quality time to observe, hear the conversations and see their distinct behaviors. It was as though I didn’t exist. I was just the driver, receding into the background, giving them a sense of freedom to discuss anything.
As with any family dynamic they all had their specific roles, each embodying their own space while contributing special and unique values to the whole. Daisy was the pretty girl wrapped up in frills and bows. Always aware of her outfits and up to date on fashion. How she looked was paramount especially as it related to the opposite sex. Just becoming aware of her developing body and feelings towards boys, she was the one who led the others down a path of courtship and flirting. It was innate to her. She knew instinctively how to smile and interact. Watching her give the others clear signals to follow. She’s happily married with five kids today.
Haley was the care giver. Whenever the group hit a speed bump she calmed everyone down and made them work together to re-establish their bonds. Making them closer and stronger than ever. She was the counselor, weaving throughout the team, encouraging discussion of feelings and emotions. Intuitively aware that acting out came from insecurities and internalized fears, usually of our own making. She showed the group they rarely survived when aired in the light of day. She’s a therapist today.
Claire was the jock. The one who always wore soccer clothes regardless of the season. Talked incessantly about the teams she played on, or the ones she faithfully watched. She encouraged everyone to stay active, get outdoors and enjoy moving. Whether it was an organized game or just twirling in the park, she had it covered. She was happiest when doing something physical and helped the others to see its value as well. Today coaches a college soccer team.
Sarah was the student. She was always reading. Oh, she’d pop her head up every once in awhile to add to the conversation but her studies and goals took priority. She loved to read and learn just to read and learn, regardless of the reason. Often class work was too mundane so she’d search out new and unrelated topics. Constantly reading passages of her current book, she’d enthrall and capture their imagination. Touching them all with her gift of enlightenment and enthusiasm for the printed word. She and her husband are lawyers in Washington DC today.
My daughter? She graduated from high school and college with honors, was a cheerleader four years running and represented her high school pole vaulting team at the state championships. But her true love was the theater. She thrived on stage. As a result she was more naive than the others, quick to believe or trust. Rather than dampen or discourage this sweet ingenue-like quality, they vigorously surrounded and protected her. Using acting and comedic skills, she was often called on to direct the cast and relieve tensions through comedy. She’s in L.A. pursuing an incredible array of theater arts projects.
That’s what friend and family are for. To help us hone our best parts, see those we missed and encourage getting beyond our comfort zone in a safe, nurturing environment. They are who we desperately need to cling to in these uncertain and crazy times. As C. S. Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gives value to survival.”
Right now, with what we’re facing, it may be our only form of survival. We are traveling through the looking glass and down that rabbit hole. The best defense isn’t feeling isolated or alone, but rather, going through this trauma with good friends and family by our sides. Let’s see this through together.