Apart from family who usually have very little option, the people who stand by you through all the trials and tribulations in your life are your friends. Not just fairweather friends who are around when the times are good and everything is going "swimmingly" but the real friends who walk in when all the others are walking out and leaving you to your crisis. Now these aren't just any friends - these are the "old friends" who have known you forever and spent nights mopping up your tears when you've needed consoling and mopping up their own as they howl with laughter along with you at some crazy thing or other you have both found amusing.
It's been said that friends are the family you choose for yourself - how right that is - and I have made some wonderful choices over the years. My best friend from school is still in my life today. We have known each other since we have been 8 and 6 respectfully. For a time we went our separate ways - me to college and her to having her family. No bad feelings in any way. Just life taking us in opposing directions. She knows all about me, has imparted some good advice over the years and kept a watchful eye over me when I found myself living alone after my dad moved into a nursing home. She made sure I ate regularly and has fed me on too many occasions to count.
Then there are my 3 friends from college. We also have a special bond and, although we don't keep in contact too regularly, when we meet or pick up the phone it's as if we have never had a minute pass since the last time we talked. If anything goes wrong - they are the first to be there with support. We do that for each other - that's why we have been friends for so long. That's all that matters. I hope I do the same for them. They may not be blood related but they are most definitely family! I love them dearly and I make sure they know it.
There are old friends that you lose contact with over the years for one reason or another - who you think have left your friendship circle for good only to find them returning many years later in some surprising way to add their lustre back into your life once more. No regrets about years gone by - no apologies required - no bad feelings felt: just the pleasure of reconnecting once again.
When you have good friends who don't let you down, take my advice: cherish them and hold them close to your heart. They are your rock, your salvation on occasions, your allies when you feel you have none, your unwavering support when others fail you - and they are the most precious gifts you can be given. Trustworthiness, loyalty, friendship - these are not always a given for everybody. So if you have old friends who bring a sparkle to your life, let them know it and sparkle right back for them. Life is not complete without the closeness and the bond of old friends. I love them all and will cherish their friendship always. xx