Visiting Vermont this week has me thinking about friendship.
Friends come in all varieties, and I have decided I need every kind.
With some friends you can pick up right where you left off. You don't see each other often or contact each other much, but it doesn't matter--they listen as if no time has passed.
Then there are friends who build you up just by their presence. Encouragement seeps from every pore. I have encountered many this week and they always leave me feeling like I have had an energy drink.
And I have had a few friends in my lifetime who slip in quietly at my hour of need and help me in a way that leaves me speechless. When my mother died in 2002, for instance, my phone rang the morning of her funeral. It was my friend and neighbor, Angela. "Get out the clothes your kids are wearing today," she said, "I am coming to pick them up and iron them. Then I will bring them back." I didn't even argue. I just obeyed.
A few minutes later, the doorbell rang. She slipped in, offered a hug, took the clothes and left. She knew me well enough to know that I would pull out the crumpled clothes for seven kids that day and be reduced to tears. It was one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me and I will never forget it.
There are some people who just say "Let me know if I can do anything." Then there are others, like Angela, who just do it.
I need every type of friend. But I also want to be every type of friend--the energizer, the doer, the listener. The friend who will get past the awkwardness of the moment and simply do what is needed.
Now that's what friends are for.