What makes somebody a friend?  How do you decide if someone is a really good friend, an acquaintance, a friend by default, or convenience.  You know those friends, a friend of a friend who became your friend because you were always hanging out with the same people type of friend.

When I was a young girl we moved around a lot. I never spent more than two years at a single school and moved between towns and homes in and out of my grandparents house and with my mom. I made friends at every school I went to, had sleep overs, birthday parties, play dates at the pool and snow fights in the winter.  When I was younger I would have described a friend as somebody I liked to hang out with.  Someone I shared lunch with at school.  Somebody I called and talked to whenever homework was done and nothing was on TV.

When I was in high school a friend was somebody I could skip school with and spend the day laying out by the lake.  Somebody to pass notes to in class about my latest crush.  Somebody that would double date at prom and sneak me out of the house after curfew when we just weren't ready to stop partying. (Can you tell I was a hand full as a teenager?)

When I was in college a friend was someone I could study with.  Someone I could go out dancing with and wake up the next morning and laugh about the things we saw on the way to class with a hot cup of coffee.  Someone who helped me color my hair, pick out the hottest shade of bright pink nail polish, and fix me a drink after a bad date with a guy that clearly didn't appreciate a descent conversation.

Here I am in my (semi) late twenties and I'm finally starting to understand what being a true friend is really about.  A friend is someone that checks in on you when they know there's nothing they can do to fix the situation but they don't want you to feel alone or discouraged.  Someone that takes a second from their own busy life to give you the encouragement you need to get through the day, the week, the month.  Someone that shares their deepest darkest secrets regardless how chaotic, crazy, hilarious, or gross they are.   Someone that laughs about life with you when nobody else "gets it."

A friend is someone you can go weeks without talking to because life gets crazy, but as soon as you say "hi" it's like they were never really gone.  A friend is someone that isn't afraid to tell you the truth.  Whether it's a painful or pleasant truth, they can tell you and they know you won't fly off the handle.  A friend is someone you can talk to about hormones and marriage and parenting and loss without feeling judged or embarrassed.  Someone you can talk to about your painful past that still haunts you, the present that challenges you and the future that gives you anxiety. Someone that knows when to just listen, knows when to give advice, and knows when to cry along with you.  They stand up for you.

The crazy thing about this revelation for me is where it originated.  Sure I have a few close friends that I grew up with and they fit most of these descriptions of a true friend.  But this revelation came from such an unlikely place.  A group of girls that I've spoken to for almost 2 years online that originated from a public message board have been the best friends that I've ever known.  Most of us have never met, but I feel more bonded to these girls than most people I see in my daily life.  To see them all come together and care enough about Lillian to do something to help change her future for the better has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I'm so grateful for these friends.  Girls - you know who you are.  Thank you. 


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