“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”
Eleanor Roosevelt’s words perfectly articulate how I feel about the importance of friendship. I value my friends and try to be worthy of them. I am fortunate to have a select group of loyal friends, ‘my people’, the family that I have chosen to be an integral part of my life. Their footprints, much like fingerprints and snowflakes, are unique- no two are alike! Some of these friends I see regularly, or will as our lives return to ‘normal’, whatever that entails. Others live a distance away and we will need to put our heads together in order to plan for time to enjoy each other’s company. Either way, I am grateful for the joy these amazing women and men bring to my life. There is no need to name names- they know who they are!
My dear friend of more than 50 years died tragically last year and I am certain of only one thing- I will carry her memory in my heart forever. Laurie’s footprint is permanent and I will never forget her bright smile, irreverent wit, unwavering devotion and love. She knew me long before I grew up, when I was young and cute and had my whole life in front of me. She helped me to shape that life, to navigate my turbulent teen years, and to thrive as I matured. An important part of my past, she will always have a special place in my heart. Rest easy, my friend.
I am a writer working on my 6th novel. My main characters are women of different ages and backgrounds and, on the surface, might appear to have nothing in common. But there is something that unites them- they are all privileged to enjoy the benefits of close friends. In my first novel Jeep Tour, Susan was my principal character Jackie’s best friend and in Guessing at Normal, Beth was there to provide unconditional love and support to Jill. It was important to me that my characters had friends, in part because I love them and felt they deserved to enjoy true and long-lasting friendships. And from a literary perspective, dialogue between fictional friends can reveal hidden secrets, fears, hopes and dreams. A well-developed friendship provides me, as a writer, with a way to show how compassionate or thoughtful or clueless my characters are. Perfectly imperfect, quirky women are transformed, or at least made more relatable, when a best friend is part of the story.
I published my historical novel Landscape of a Marriage on July 29th. The narrator is Mary Perkins Olmsted, wife of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. I wrote the character of Anne to play the important role of Mary’s fictional best friend. Anne provides a shoulder for Mary to cry on, a heart for Mary to take comfort in, and an ear to make certain that Mary is heard. Their friendship, with all of its ups and downs, challenges and triumphs, is celebrated over more than 40 years.
If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it is just how much I value my friends. Now that I am double vaccinated, I look forward to spending more time with them. Actual face time, not Facetime! Catch-ups over coffee and lunches enjoyed sitting on a deck or in our kitchens, casual dinners with our spouses and partners, long walks, shopping and hugs. Lots of hugs!
As you continue to make plans for a happier and healthier 2021, be sure to reach out to those you love and remind them of how important they are to you. Pay special attention to the friends who really ‘get’ you, who complete you and who make you feel loved in return. Your heart will thank you for it!