By Shelley Murphy
National Friendship Day fell on Aug. 2. It’s not surprising to learn that the holiday began as a marketing ploy to drum up business at Hallmark Cards in the 1930s.
But the gimmick grew in popularity, causing Congress to declare the first Sunday in August as National Friendship Day.
Heartwarming tales of friendships are as old as time; almost everyone has a story to tell. It’s a theme that resonates with most and explains the popularity of the television show Friends, which, after ending in 2004, continues to generate high ratings.
The observance of Friendship Day is over; but this year, more than ever, it’s important to keep the celebration alive all year long. I’m relying on my friends to keep me sane in 2020.
Back in the good ol’ days, I once visited a spa. While waiting for a facial to fix my sagging skin, I noticed two women arrived together. When they reached the reception desk, they proudly proclaimed, “We’re celebrating our 15-year ‘friend-iversary.’ ”
Kids, I thought. My BFF and I have celebrated more than 50 years of friendship, and we’re still going strong.
We’ve maintained our friendship despite our diverse day-to-day calendars. When I became a stay-at-home mom, she began her career at a respected university. When she retired, I started a part-time job—yet, our role reversals never affect our friendship.
She knows me unlike anyone. When we text, it’s in shorthand—no banter back and forth, instead a single word: Lunch?
Despite COVID-19, we’ve continued catching-up over lunch—where there’s a will, there’s a way. Speaking of wills, our latest lunch spot is the cemetery.
It’s not that morbid; I like to think of it as creative problem solving. My maternal grandparents are long-time residents, and her dad moved in last October.
The memorial park boasts cool breezes and ocean views. We bring beach towels and our lunches, and as soon as we sit, we pick up where we left off without missing a beat.
It’s difficult to explain a half-century of friendship. She’s my one phone call from jail. (My husband might toy with the idea of letting me sit a few days to enjoy some solitude.)
We’ve enjoyed more than 50 years of fun, yet like all friendships, we’ve faced some ups and downs. Our shared experiences include navigating adolescent high jinks, enduring high school drama, surviving questionable college escapades, and so much more.
One of my favorite photos is of her standing in the hallway outside my hospital room anxiously waiting as I deliver my firstborn.
My boys are the basis for many of my friendships. Their school activities, athletic competitions, and academic endeavors allowed me to meet many of my treasured friends.
But my boys are grown and flown, and as life cycles evolve, it sometimes gets harder to hang onto those friendships. We may not connect as often as we once did, but I know with these friends, our tether may stretch, but it won’t ever snap.
There’s a popular quote from a poem written by an unknown author: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”
I disagree and don’t think it’s that simple. Lots of my friends drift in and out of my life, but they don’t leave; the current brings them back.
Friends are the family we choose, and we’re bound by a bond of love, not blood. My family of friends are funny, forgiving, and faithful. I’m grateful for them, and I cherish their special gifts and steadfast grit.
These women enrich my life and make me a better person. Some, I may see a few times a year, and others a couple days a month; regardless, they’re always in my heart.
During these difficult and uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to lean on a friend.
Join the celebration and send a card, type a text, or make a call and ask a favorite friend, “How you doin’?”
For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.