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"......is the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away." Dinah Maria Mulock Craik , 1859

During my attic ramblings I ran across the above passage, scribbled in long hand by myself who knows how long ago. The only reference I had noted was that it was from "Best Loved Poems of the American People", published in 1936. A bit of googling found the original author who was Ms. Craik. The words are actually excerpted from a novel that she wrote in 1859 titled "A Life for a Life."

How true her definition of friendship rings with me! A true friendship is worth more than most any relationship I can think of...your relatives HAVE to love you but a friend chooses to. Friendships start in unusual ways sometimes, and prove themselves with the test of time. One pair of friends in particular comes to mind.

He and she were both in bad marriages when they met, but their love and devotion for each other became evident fairly quickly. He moved out first, and went through a bitter divorce. About the time that she was preparing to leave her marriage, her father became gravely ill so she was forced to stay awhile longer. When her father died, her husband was the one who stood with her at the graveyard, rather than the love of her life. He and I went to the cemetary together, and he pretended to be with me so that her husband wouldn't become suspicious. I have never in my life seen a man more miserable than he was that day, not being able to be with her and console her when she needed him most.

Both of their divorces are ancient history now, and they both stuck to me like glue through my own. His father has died in the meantime, and she stood by his side the whole way. The day that he died, I would not normally have been at the hospital. Due to a scheduling change, I walked into work right at the moment when he needed a friend most. I called her to get there as quickly as she could, and I stood at his father's bedside until she arrived. His mom got there first, and he had to take her in and tell her the news. Since then, they have grown in love and dedication to each other and settled into a comfortable life together. We don't see each other often, but our friendship is forever based on what we've been through together.

There have been good times too...don't get me wrong. But the true test of friendship comes when times are hard and loving is work. And for that gift, I am eternally grateful.
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