In the last two weeks in my “Friendship Series,” we have covered your acquaintances and regular friends that occupy the two outermost levels of your “Friendship Rings.” Today, we will discuss the smallest circle of friends you have, your close friends. Even though this level of friendship is by far the smallest in the number of friends it contains, it is also the level that has the people who you have the strongest relationships with. These friendships take the most work and time to build and maintain, but they also bring the greatest rewards in terms of happiness.
Your close friends are the people in your life that are not blood relatives, but they should be. They are your Friends with a capital “F.” They are your “best friends forever,” your “brother from another mother,” and your “sister from another mister.” They are the people that know your deepest, darkest secrets, but they would never tell a soul. These are the friends that will have your back no matter what happens. These types of friends are few and far between, but the bonds tend to last for years. At any one time you are lucky to have even 3 friends like this, and in your entire life you may have at most a dozen. The work you have to put in to create this type of connection, coupled with how rarely you get the opportunity to create a bond like this, is what makes these relationships so special and fulfilling when you are fortunate enough to have them.
When I think about my close friends throughout my life, there is always one person who immediately comes to mind. We have known each other for over 20 years, and we have been close friends for 15 of them. I think of him more as a brother than a friend after everything we have been through together. Even after we graduated from high school and went to different colleges, we still maintained a close relationship. As our lives have gone in completely different directions as we have matured into adulthood, and despite the fact that we live 300 miles apart, our connection has remained strong, and I feel just as close to him today as I did 10 years ago. Since he is a very private person, I am not going to reveal his name here, but for reasons only a select few will know, I will refer to him as Jason.
You have actually already been introduced to Jason in my post, “Mistakes.” He is the friend that eventually realizes my incredible blunder and calls me a “dumbass.” This is just one of a hundred stories I could tell about our many adventures together. Instead of that though, I would instead like to tell you about how our relationship has evolved and changed over the years, while still maintaining the extreme level of closeness between us. We first became close friends when we were about 12 and entering middle school. We are both academically gifted, also known as nerds, so we had a lot of the same classes. In addition, we had many of the same interests like chess, video games, and sci-fi movies (like I said, nerds), so we grew close fairly naturally. We remained close through high school as well. I swear our senior year he spent more time at my house than his. We graduated numbers one and two in our class, and in his graduation speech he even thanked my mother for being his “second mom” for much of the year.
Now that I have shared with you some of the background about what our relationship was like, I can get to the important part and tell you about what our friendship has meant to us. The first thing that comes to mind is how our bond has been a constant in our world even as we have grown into two very different people living very different lives. When we went off to different colleges and had to build an entirely new social world, we had each other to turn to. When he went through some health issues and had to switch schools, I was there to help him through it. Every time I would get injured or hospitalized, I could talk to him as a friend who completely understood my disability and get some much needed support. When I moved out here to Kansas and had to build a whole new life, he actually put his life on hold and accompanied me for two weeks to help me get settled in. This does not even mention the numerous times that we have called, texted, or emailed each other just to talk or get advice about something we were going through. Our close friendship gave us the sense of comfort we needed to open up to each other about anything and everything we were experiencing, and in doing so it provided us with the much needed social support everyone needs at certain points in their lives.
In addition to all of the usual support close friends provide each other, due to my disability, our relationship had an added dimension of closeness. Especially after my near death experience when I got my trache, I had to have someone with me at all times that knew how to take care of me. Now, none of my care is rocket science, but much of it is gross, awkward or both, and it is a lot of responsibility to take on, so it is not something I would ask just anyone to learn to do. I was lucky enough to have Jason in my life however, which meant I never had to ask. Within a year of me getting my trache, he had learned to do all of my care just from being around me. He learned the gross process of suctioning my lungs. He learned all of the nuances of my wheelchair probably better than I did. He learned how to drive me safely, and he even learned how to transfer me into and out of my wheelchair. He did all of this, without me ever asking him to, just so that the two of us could hang out like any other close friends would. He made this huge responsibility he was taking on seem as natural as taking out the trash or getting the mail, and I am forever grateful for that, as it allowed us to build the amazing relationship we have to this day.
It is so comforting to know that I have a friend like Jason in my life. We have seen each other at the best of times, like the time we went to the salsa club, the first time I got him drunk, and our many legendary escapades in online gaming. We have also seen each other at our worst, like when he helped me through my addiction issues, when I helped him through depression, and us helping each other through my numerous injuries and hospitalizations. With everything we have gone through together, both good and bad, there is nothing that I would not feel I could share with him, and I hope he feels the same way. I know without a doubt that if I picked up the phone and told him I was in trouble, that he would do anything he could to get out here to help me. In fact, I have done this exact thing, and in less than a week he had traveled the 300 miles to get to me. As other friends have come and gone in my life, our close friendship has remained strong. I am so grateful to have a friend like Jason in my life, and I cannot imagine a life without him in it.
I hope that you can see how much having a close friend like Jason has added to my life. We have laughed together, cried together, and grown into men together. Our relationship has been a constant source of social and emotional support, even as our lives have gone their own directions. I hope you are lucky enough to have a friend in your life that you feel this close to, and I hope you appreciate how special that friendship is. We have now covered all 3 levels of the “Friendship Rings.” Next week we will conclude with part 5 of my “Friendship Series,” by discussing how all of the information we have covered fits together to bring the greatest amount of happiness to your life.