Friday, July 10, 2009

Friendship.... in Charlotte's Words

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 one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship. [adapted Ralph Waldo Emerson]

My husband's family understands the value of friendships. My mother- and father-in-law, who are now in their 80s, have maintained friendships with people for 60 years or more. My husband and his brother also have strong friendships with people they have known since childhood. My lovely sister-in-law, Charlotte, is no different. She has friends literally across the globe. I can't begin to imagine how many gigabytes her e-mail address book takes up! It's a given that this family knows the importance of friendships and how to make them, nurture them, and enjoy them.

Today is Charlotte's birthday. Before she began celebrating, she sent this e-mail to her friends. It's a message we should all remember, so I thought I would share it with you!

"My dear friends,

Today is my birthday and I am having a luncheon, ladies only. Now this may not seem like a big deal to you…and you know, 5 years ago it wouldn’t have been a big deal to me either. But for me today…it is a HUGE accomplishment! You see, I have lived in Portugal for 3 years and I am just beginning the 4th year…and this is the first time of living here, I have GIRLFRIENDS.

I just want to say, please don’t take your friendships for granted. I know you probably say that you don’t, I said that too, before I moved here…how could I ever take a friend for granted??? My friends are too special to me…but I did in fact take my friendships for granted, you were always there, and I knew I would always have friends, so why would living here be any different? Well, it took living in a foreign country, not knowing the language to make the shortest of conversations and not having a job to meet people that I might have something in common with, that I realized how much I had in fact taken my friendships for granted.

Thank goodness for emails and for telephone with free long distance calls because I was able to stay in touch with you in many ways, but each year that ticked by, I missed that special bond I have always had with my girlfriends…going shopping, meeting in each other’s homes, talking about shoes, weight, cooking, well, all those things we “take for granted” with our friends. All of a sudden I didn’t have any of that kind of relationship here. Of course I had Mario to talk to, and often I told him he was my only friend…but somehow it was not the same, if you know what I mean. There was a huge void in my life, it was MY FRIENDS…I simply had no friends here. No one to call up and chat on the phone with, no one to tell me “that dress looks good on you”, or “No, Charlotte that is not your color”...again, you know what I mean.

The point of this message is that I now have some friends and the hole inside of me is beginning to fill up once again. It is the most incredible feeling in the world, to experience that emptiness ‘fill up’ again…so that is why I say to you…don’t take your friendships for granted. Treasure them, nourish them, and love them.

My mother taught me how to be a friend at a young age…it was nothing that she did or said, I just watched her with her friends and learned from those interactions. Thank you Mama…it is the best gift you have ever given me.

I have always said that my friends were my lifeline to happiness. You have been with me through thick and thin…and there is nothing in this world that I would ever do to lose you or what we have shared together. It is a remarkable bond that I cherish. Now I can send this to at least 5 women today here in Portugal…they are a part of my heart now, just as all of you are, and always will be.

The best gift that I have is the blessing of your friendship. It is worth more than anything money could buy.

Thank you very much.

Love, Charlotte xxx"


Heather of the EO said...

What a smart and lovely girl!

I love that she mentioned that you taught her about friendship without saying anything, just living friendship. What a gift.

I love this!

Mummy McTavish said...

What a special letter. I went only 6 months in a different town without any friends because I knew I was leaving soon and I didn't want to make friends so I didn't have to say goodbye... 6 months was hard. I regret it now but I've learnt my lesson from it. Friends are special.

miruspeg said...

Thanks for sharing Charlotte's email with us Roban.

It is certainly very easy to take our friends for granted. I for one have always treasured my friends.

I also know that when I have felt lonely, I have looked outside of myself for comfort. And I have often depended on others to love me in order to feel important, needed, and valued because I never understood how to truly love myself. Gaining that knowledge has made me a much better friend.

My overall friendship advice is to take an active role in our life and choose our friends wisely. Once we learn how to appreciate our uniqueness, we'll find friends with the same like-minded qualities.


Inga's Notepad said...

What a wonderful letter... thank you for sharing. It does seem true that "you don't know you've got till it's gone"... glad she got the chance to say it to those who needed to hear it (and to share it with those who got the chance to read it and reevaluate their own relationships!)

Enjoy the rest of your summer! We are spending a good portion shopping for colleges & researching scholarships!

Take care... thank you (& your SIL) for sharing this

McMGrad89 said...

Friends are an important part of life. And on that note, check my blog for a little award I have for you.

PS - talk to you tomorrow.

Octamom said...

Love this post--where she now finds herself with new friendships is exactly the place when a new locale finally begins to feel like 'home'--when I develop friendships that are deeper.

Love the pic, too! Gorgeous and a great idea!