As 2016 winds down, I think back to all of the friendships I’ve made in my life. I have lifelong friends in Michigan, Colorado, Nebraska, Montana, Washington, and North Carolina. I’ve met them from family connections, work, church, and MS self-help groups. I would not be the person that I am today without their love and support. Even though I haven’t seen some for a very long time, we stay connected through social media or just plain old snail mail.
I met my friend in Michigan when we are 10 years old in the fourth grade together. It’s amazing how after all these years, and lives going in different directions, that we still have a connection and bond. We ended up going to college together for the first two years. Even pledged the same sorority, AXD.
My friends in Colorado came from a variety of situations. I was selling Mary Kay cosmetics for a while and have a wonderful friend who was and is selling Mary Kay. Another friend helped me get back into the church after a long hiatus. And other friends were coworkers as well as other coaches for our Special Olympic teams.
My first husband’s best friend ended up leaving the banking job they had and going back to his family farm in Nebraska. We visited many times and had great fun. I still stay in contact with the family.
I lived in Montana for several years after I left teaching and made incredible friends at the church that I attended. We went to Bible studies together, had dinners out together, laughed and prayed together, and later celebrated each other’s birthdays by flying between Montana and Seattle. Even though I’m farther away now, we still stay in touch by email and Facebook.
After I moved to the Seattle area when my granddaughter was born, I became friends with wonderful women through my work with Boys and Girls Clubs. I searched out a church which fed me spiritually and emotionally. I met many beautiful women through our Bible studies. One even traveled cross-country with me when I left Seattle and came to North Carolina. We had many fun and crazy adventures along the way!
I started going to a couple National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) MS self-help groups in the Seattle area after my diagnosis. It was one of the best things that I did for myself. If you haven’t figured this out yet, other people with MS become wonderful friends! They understand. They get it! They’ve gone through the same struggles. One of the best MS friends I have is from the Seattle area who encouraged me to write my book and even wrote the foreword. I couldn’t have done it without her love and support.
After arriving in North Carolina and living with my parents in a senior community, most of my neighbors are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. I have gone on some fun community trips around the Western North Carolina area. I’ve joined a Mahjong group which is a lot of fun.
However, what started me on this train of thought was again the great people I made in my NMSS MS self-help group. One of the ladies that goes to our group invited me out to her beautiful home in the North Carolina mountains. She fixed a wonderful lunch, and we had great conversation. We committed to doing this more often!
Even though I am an introvert, and find refreshment and relaxation by having time alone, I also need friends. We all need that human connection to make our lives rich and full and blessed. I feel very fortunate that I have connections with lifelong friends along my journey through life.
My prayer for everyone that’s reading this would be that you have great lifeline friends as well. If not yet, I encourage you to reach out. Someone may be waiting for you to take the first step. It is well worth the effort!
Happy new year!