It’s been a difficult few months. I won’t get into the specifics. They aren’t terribly interesting, anyway. They’re mostly just pieces of the familiar human story –lessons about loss and sadness and growing up. I’ve been feeling what we all, at one time or another, inevitably feel. At times I have named it “hopelessness,” but that’s not what it is. Not really.
Because I’ve never actually given up hope. I’ve never stopped hoping. I’ve never stopped believing that there is something more, something better, waiting for me in the future. As sad as I may sometimes feel, I’ve never stopped believing in the possibility of happiness. I’ve never given up my faith in joy. I’ve never been that foolish.
I know that these feelings are temporary. As lost as I may sometimes feel, I know that feeling lost is a way to find and to be found. As alone as I may sometimes feel, I know that I am not alone, that none of us are. As much as I may sometimes feel disconnected, I know that I am bound by love.
I know that, because I have all of you. That’s the thing about friendship. It gives us hope. It gives us faith. It gives us the strength to keep going. It teaches us, over and over again, to believe in our past and our present and our future. It promises us happiness. It provides us with a family, one that extends further than blood relatives, one as large as all of humanity.
There’s a great line from an essay by Cecile Gilmer from the This I Believe series on NPR that goes “I believe that families are not only blood relatives but sometimes just the people that show up and love you when no one else will.” I take comfort in this idea. I have built my life upon this idea. I believe this, too.
I believe it, because I have all of you. You – my dear friends, who show up, who love me, who let me love you, who are there for me through happiness and sadness, who give me faith in goodness, who I simply could not live without – You are my family. You are my joy. You are the reason I am here.
I exist to love you.
They say you never forget your first love, and I’m sure that’s true. But of course, it isn’t really just your first romantic love, is it? And it isn’t really just the first. Because as it turns out, the older I get, the more certain I become that my favorite moments have been the moments I’ve spent falling in love with each of you, over and over, in a multitude of ways. I can’t forget any of it, any of you. Nor would I ever want to.
Friends, you teach me love – how to love, how to feel loved. Are there greater lessons people anywhere can teach one another? You – individually and collectively – are my living, breathing definition of love. You are the great loves of my life. You are the greatest thing about me. Truly.
I don’t believe in fate, or soul mates, or any of those theories that imply the universe intervenes in our lives. I don’t believe we were all somehow destined to become friends. I think it happened in a much more powerful and meaningful way than fate. I think we chose each other. We didn’t choose to meet. That was circumstance. But we chose to become friends. We worked on these relationships when they needed to be worked on. We fought for these friendships when they needed fighting for. We chose to open our hearts to one another and let each other in. We chose this love.
And we continue to make that choice. Each time we reach out on facebook, in emails, phone calls, texts, letters, cards, gatherings – we continue to make that commitment to our friendships. Every wedding attended and birthday acknowledged and sadness shared and success celebrated is, in the simplest and grandest of terms, an affirmation of love.
It’s been a difficult few months, full of the inevitable life lessons of loss and sadness and the agonizing trials of growing up. But through it all, I have never given up the love I feel for each of you. I have never lost faith in our bond. I have never stopped believing in the shared happiness of the family we have created. I have never stopped hoping for more. I still believe in joy. I forever believe in us.