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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/23/09

Why Not a National Friendship Day?

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Message Elayne Clift
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This month we will honor our fathers as we did our mothers in May.  There is a day to remember grandparents, and Valentine’s Day for romancing lovers. We have national days of commemoration for all sorts of people and events.  Why not a day to remember and honor our friends?


            The motto could be something like:  “A friend is a terrible thing to waste,” or “Friendship means never having to say ‘call me.’”  Or we could just stick with “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” The logo could suggest “this is your brain without a friend.”   


            Aristotle said that friendship had three functions:  It required that friends must enjoy each other’s company; be useful to one another; and share a common commitment to good.  The great philosopher also suggested that genuine friendship was reciprocal and could withstand any pressures placed upon it.  That works for me.


            I’ve had invisible friends, lifelong friends, long distance friends, new friends, rediscovered friends, and friends who are really my family.  All of them have brought me comfort, immeasurable joy, laughter, insight, and a unique kind of love.


            Bill F. and Teresa P.  are my most treasured invisible friends.  I’ve never laid eyes on either one of them, yet they fill my life with such meaning and connection.  Bill and I “met” years ago when my first book was published.  He and his wife Boots lived in Arizona when he wrote me praising the book which he had purchased for his daughter.  I wrote to thank him, asking for his daughter’s name so I could send her an autographed copy.  That’s how our epistolary friendship started.  It went on for years.  We never spoke; to do so would have broken the magic of our written exchanges in the days before the Internet.  One day after we’d been corresponding for several years, Bill told me he had Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I sensed exactly the day on which I should call him to say goodbye.  He could hear my voice but could say nothing in return.  It was a profound moment between two people who had grown to know and love each other.  After Bill died, I kept in touch with Boots and Carol, the daughter for whom I’d signed the book.  They came to see me the weekend that Princess Diana died and so we shared another shocking loss together.  I visited them in Arizona.  We’ve lost touch now, but Bill is always in my heart.


            Teresa is my prison penpal, wrongly incarcerated for accidentally killing the man who was sexually assaulting her.  We got acquainted through a women writer’s newsletter and have been corresponding for more than a dozen years now.  Again, I’ve never called her; our only communication is through letters.  Yet we are as close as two friends can be, sharing our lives in a way that is rare and meaningful.  We learn from each other, laugh at the world’s insanity, share our writings and our hopes for the world. Once she is paroled, which many of her friends are working on, I will travel to California to hug her and to say thanks, for her strength and character inspire me and I would be less of a human being without her in my life.

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Elayne Clift is a writer,lecturer, workshop leader and activist. She is senior correspondent for Women's Feature Service, columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and Brattleboro (VT) Commons and a contributor to various publications internationally. (more...)
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