Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things. ~Author Unknown
Ok, I know the title is hokey, but I'm sure you get the idea.
I've just spent another lovely few hours in the company of friends. We have a wonderful family, on both my side and Anthony's side. They have been so wonderful through all of this, and I will talk about them another time. Today I'd like to talk about friends.
For the past few weeks, with the exception of last week, we have been joined by our friends (and sometimes members of our family, who also happen to be friends) each Sunday afternoon. We drink (wine, bourbon, beer, water, coffee, etc), eat cheese and crackers and other lovely things (today our wonderfully gourmet friends brought some lovely trout and caperberries. I'd never tasted them before, but they were goooood!), and we sit and talk and laugh. It's almost become a tradition!
Today, my best friend Sally came over with her son Jack. We started at midday (it was 5 past 12, so it's technically afternoon!) and had a good gossip and a drink. A little while later our good friend Dallas arrived, then our friends Kylie and Gordon and their kids. Not long after that Trevor arrived. Not everyone stays the whole time, but while we're all together we have great conversations and everyone gets along, no matter what the background, or whether or not any of them have met before.
There's something very healing in that. I've always been a people person anyway, and my idea of a good time involves great conversation. It's also very nice to have the company. I think when you're grieving, there could be a real risk in withdrawing into yourself; blocking the world out. And we were probably tempted to for a while too. But there were people that kept calling, kept dropping in and making sure we were OK.
In the week leading up to Samuel's funeral, there were always lots of people around. It was nice, but in a way, a bit overwhelming. In the week after, there were a few, and then the week after that, almost nobody came around. It was a little scary, a little lonely. When we were here alone, the reality of what had happened was almost too big, too much to bear. Then people started to come around some more. It wasn't a constant, seemingly never ending flow, but it wasn't nobody either.
Before Sam died, we probably weren't the most sociable people. I was always so tired (physically and emotionally) by the end of the week (one of the few downfalls of the teaching profession), and we've never really had the disposable income you need to go out and socialise regularly. I was also pretty happy to spend time with my kids and Anthony. I do love people, but most of the time it seemed easier to see them here. I didn't have to organise babysitting, there's plenty here for kids to do (well, boys anyway). It sounds selfish, but when I couldn't do things here with people, I didn't tend to do it at all, unless it was something really special. When I think of it, I guess that's fairly normal in our busy world.
That's another reason why it's been great that people have come around. The casual nature of the Sunday afternoon thing means that people can drop in for a little while, or for longer. It's been so good to to see people, do some normal things, and not have to go too far from the little comfort zone we've got going on here. And it's not like we don't think about Sam, or talk about him; we do. On our terms. We talk about him, we share memories, we get upset, but we also talk about other things. And laugh.
But just because we're enjoying our Sunday afternoons, it doesn't mean we're never going to leave the house. Last weekend, I went out on both Friday and Saturday night with some of my oldest friends. Mark and Donna live in Melbourne now, and came up for the weekend just to catch up with friends. On Friday night we sat outside King O'Malleys with our other old friends Gerard and Toby (and his partner Swapna) for a very long time drinking beer and talking. I drank WAAAAY too much and ended up with a sore head, but what a great night it was.
On Saturday night, all of us, as well as Anthony, Helena, Geoff, Tan and Kris (who was visiting from the U.S) went to dinner at Chairman and Yip (then move on to some other places), and once again had a lovely evening.
The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley
The great thing about these friends, is that it doesn't matter how much time passes, when we get together it's like we've never been apart. I haven't seen Mark and Donna since my 35th birthday party at the end of 2008. I haven't seen Gerard since October of the same year. But we had a great night. And they have been there for me, supporting me, through this whole time.
I'm not real good at the whole friendship thing. I like people, and I like spending time with people, but my problem has always been that I like knowing lots of different kinds of people. It was a problem at school because at school you're supposed to have your core friends and spend all your time with them. It's a problem now because I don't have the time to devote to maintaining these friendships. Life gets in the way, doesn't it?
So against all the odds, I do have a few fantastic friends, some of them I only see once a week or once a month or once a year or once every 5 years, but they are true friends. And in some ways it's thanks to them that I can see some good left on the world. That I can see we can still have some fun and not feel guilty about it.
So thank you, to the friends who have been there for us. Thanks to Sally and Dallas and Meg, who were so wonderful in the first week, and have continued to be caring supportive friends. Some of the things you did for us were so above and beyond what a friend should have to do, and you did them without question.
Thanks to all our wonderful friends who sent cards and messages and came to Samuel's funeral. If I haven't sent you a card yet, I will. Thanks to Aamund, and Keiko, who helped Dallas and Meg support us. Thanks Keryn and Brian for lending us the camper trailer. Thanks Paul and Mahala for sharing the camper trailer and helping us get it organised. Thanks to Trevor and Adina, who have been here keeping us company and sharing their beautiful Izzy. Thanks to Jodie, who went out of her way many times to feed us, cheer us up, give us things, especially the dragonfly (another story for another day). Thanks Carmen for being so supportive and helping out, even when we haven't seen each other for so long. Thanks Maree for being here for us when you and Jake and your family were grieving as much as we were. Thanks to Lani and Vickie and Kathy who have always been there for a chat and a laugh (and to show me their wedding photos). Thanks to Jane for sending me a card (from India!) and coming to see me. Thanks to Kris for sending flowers from California (no Australian customs, she didn't actually send them from there), and for coming out to dinner last week. Thanks to Phillipa and Jason for being there for us, and for calling to check up on us. Thanks to Kylie and Gordon for feeding us, but also just being there (and for a great afternoon today!) Thanks to Donna and Mark for travelling all the way from Melbourne to Canberra to see us. Thanks to Gerard, Toby, Swapna, Geoff, Helena, Tan and Kris who came out for a fun night in the town. Thanks Deb for your messages, your constant facebook/blog support and for bringing your beautiful Emily over to see me. Thanks Michelle for the lovely 'I love you'/'I'm thinking about you' messages. Thanks Ania for the company and the ice coffees. If I've forgotten you, I'm sorry. And if you're in my family, don't feel left out. I'm trying to work out how to say all the things I want to say to you.
Without you all, I hate to think where we'd be. Thanks.