Sunday, April 26, 2015

Guerilla friendship

I've been thinking about friendship a lot lately.  Frankly, it's kind of hard not to -- it seems like every time I turn around, another friend has popped up with a gift for me.  Not a literal gift necessarily, but a card, an email, a FB post or message, a text, a photo, a phone call, a visit, a trike/run, a coffee date...

+ an Uber gift card!
And quite often, an actual gift.  For example, I found out last week that the entire Team Drea Challenge group has been quietly scheming behind my back to send me weekly care packages!  Here's the first one -------->

It's taken me a little while to process and articulate this level of kindness.  I'm trying to avoid the superlatives I always jump to (amazing! awesome! fantastic! super!) so here's the best way I can describe it: I feel like how I think mothers feel sometimes when looking at their kids -- like my heart is bursting with joy, gratitude, and love.

I feel like I am re-learning the value of friendship.  When I was in preschool, I used to play by myself a lot, which made sense because I was an only child.  Since my parents were older and I didn't have any siblings, they wanted to stress the importance of friendship.  So they changed the question they asked me when they picked me up at the end of the day.  Instead of "what did you learn today?" they asked "who did you play with today?"  Apparently I got the message, considering I still have several good friends from preschool (like Julie!).

But in my late 20s/early 30s, I felt like my friendships were slipping a bit.  It seemed natural -- busy careers, spouses, kids, distance.  I admit I wasn't as good about picking up the phone or scheduling a meetup as I had been when DP and were dating long distance and I had more time.

But when ALS came along, my friends rallied, big time.  I've heard from people I haven't talked to in 15 years.  Reestablished regular phone call regimens.  Had long, thoughtful talks with old friends and grew strong bonds with new ones.

[I will pause here and say that it hasn't been that way for all DP's and my friendships.  A few "close" friends never reached out at all or scarcely acknowledged my diagnosis.  Which stung and still hurts.  Because if you can't show up when you learn that a friend or his chosen life partner is dying, well...  But we're trying to let the overflowing good from everywhere else cauterize those wounds and let go.]

Anyway, back to the amazingness of the Team Drea Challengers...there's also a growing number random gifts team members are giving each other -- showing up to cheer at a race, adding team members' names to their family's signs along the race course, sending little things like cards and temporary tattoos in the mail, donating to one another's pages, giving advice about training issues and encouragement about doubts...

Keep in mind that I know most everyone in the Challenge, but most of them don't know each other.  Ah, the wonders of Facebook :)

I've been trying to think of a term to describe all these random acts of kindness and my mind keeps wandering to the concept of "guerrilla gardening" where people in urban areas plant a bunch of stuff in the middle of the night to fix up a formerly neglected corner or lot.  Just because they care about their community.

So I think I'll call this "guerrilla friendship."  When you reach out to a friend or acquaintance and do something for them just to show you care about them and care about your shared friendship.

Is there some act of guerrilla friendship you can do for someone today?  Maybe someone haven't been in contact with for awhile?  You just never know when it could be too late.

1 comment:

  1. Simply said...Andrea, Mary Ann and I completely understand...your words and thoughts "echoed in our hearts and remain ever present in our mind"...we no longer ask questions...just as Jon stop asking questions...he followed his own advise..."he lived in the moments, all of them...he rejoiced in the "acts of kindness"...said often, "these acts and acts of kindness will not be act of kindness in never forgotten"...and we are constantly reminded by the continuous acts of "kindness" that he and we receive...thus, your words and feelings are understood and taken to heart...G-D, Jon, "the-blazeman", (alswarriorpoet-spirit), and his mom and dad.


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