What makes a friend a friend? Can you really be friends with someone you’ve never met? Exactly what makes someone qualify as your friend probably differs a little bit for each of us as we all have our own what makes a friend “requirements,” but as for the second question, there’s no doubt in my mind that the answer is an emphatic yes!
One of the best things about writing a blog is that you get to “meet” and interact with lots of people. Some of these people become your friends in every sense of the word. And of course when writing and reading primarily cancer blogs, the downside is that the inevitable happens; people you’ve come to know and care about die. This has happened too many times.
Losing friends is hard.
I didn’t have a chance to meet Barb in person and yes, I regret that. A lot. I’m kicking myself now for not making the three-hour or so drive to meet her. Three hours; come on. Why didn’t I just do it? We talked about it once, but we never actually met up. If only I could change that now… but of course I cannot.
I only knew Barb online, but she was my friend and I didn’t have to meet her face-to-face to know for a fact that she was a wonderfully kind and caring human being. Barb was an encourager and most definitely not a complainer. She never really talked about her pain, discomfort, fears, worries or fatigue, not with me anyway. No, Barb was always one to ask how I was doing.
I learned a few things about Barb during the past two years. First and foremost, her family meant the world to her. She loved her husband dearly and told me once she was sad because she realized that more than likely they wouldn’t get to enjoy the retirement they had been planning. That was about as close as Barb ever came to ‘complaining’. Like me, Barb was a dog lover. She wanted to start journaling. She was an advocate, taking trips here and there to learn more about and to share about metastatic breast cancer. She was an avid Green Bay Packers fan and would kindly needle me about the struggles the Vikings (my team) continually seem to have. When her mother died not that long ago, Barb reached out to me. I shared a blog post with her I had written about losing one’s mother. She was so grateful for that. When I recently had my book published, Barb was one of the very first people to let me know that she was going to buy a copy, read it herself and then donate it to her cancer center. It’s not like Barb needed advice on facing chemo. No, she was trying to show her support for me and my writing and that meant the world to me.
That’s the kind of person/friend Barb was.
I wish I had met Barb in person. I regret not doing so. I have been losing sleep over this regret. I thought we still had more time. We didn’t.
When I came across Barb’s obituary last week online via her local newspaper, I was stopped in my tracks. As I read the words, I was surprised, humbled and honored because Nancy’s Point was mentioned in it. It was almost like a sign to me, a secret message from Barb telling me it was okay. She was okay. It’s hard to explain, but that’s how it felt and I was deeply moved.
Though we did not meet, my friendship with Barb was real.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how many times you and a friend have lunch together, how many text messages you exchange or how many phones calls you make to one another. It doesn’t even matter if you never meet. A friend is a friend and genuine friendship is not based on such things. True friendship is something more. It’s something you cannot see, touch or measure; it’s an intangible thing. But when you experience it with someone, there’s no doubt about it; you know it’s real and you know it’s something very special.
Thank you for being my friend, Barb.
We will not forget.
Did you know Barb?
How do you feel about online friendships?
What do you look for in a friend?