I went to my friend’s funeral this week. Few friends span a lifetime, but she was one of them. Her name was Joan, and I had known her for 70 years. Our lives weaved in and out of the inevitable changes of life and circumstances, but never waned.
She was everything I long to be. Her life overflowed with love and compassion and I’m not surprised she chose nursing as her path in life. It fitted her well and gave expression to her wonderfully kind and gentle heart.
There was a serenity about her, a peacefulness that washed over you whenever you were with her and a joy that danced in her eyes and shaped her mischievous sense of humour.
She was an example to me of life lived well, her passionate love for Jesus and her life poured out for others.
That’s what real friends do; hold a light for you to let you see the way ahead more clearly.
And if you are truly fortunate a meeting of souls, that deeply satisfying connection where silence can be a language just as powerful as words.
The deepest friendships are forged over time, through the ups and downs of life, through shared experiences and creating memories together. It’s forged in laughter, in tears and in the ordinariness of the everyday.
But true friendship is costly, not the Facebook friendship or even the let’s-catch-up-for-coffee friendship but the I’m-here-for-you-at-2am-if-you-need-me friendship, because friendship is a sacrifice for the good of the other.
That was the Joan type of friendship, sacrificial and generous. She didn’t miss a thing, sad eyes, furrowed brow or aching heart, she noticed them all and was a listening ear and a strong support. I always thought of her as a cup of cold water friend, practical, sensitive and involved.
I remember when my son and his best mate wanted to start an adventure club for boys at our church, the road wasn’t easy. But Joan was there cheering them on and becoming their greatest prayer support through those difficult days and beyond when many boys lives were changed through their Wilderness Adventure Group and no doubt her prayers.
My daughter has never forgotten Joan’s enthusiastic involvement in her 1920s themed 21st birthday party and her joy as Joan walked through the door dressed for the 1920s (Ist image above). But that was Joan, always an encouragement.
We all need a witness to our life, someone to cheer us on, to walk the rough patches with us and to celebrate the small victories. Someone to helps us glimpse ourselves with different eyes. Someone to help us be the best that we can be.
It's a precious thing to have a friend and an even greater privilege to be one.
It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being. John Joseph Powell