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  • Writer's pictureMary Balistreri

52 Weeks - Do I Have Enough Friends?

The last few weeks, friends brought me laughter, joy, activity, and absolute delight. In thinking about the moods of grief, I realized the joy from friendship perfectly balances the sadness, anger, frustration, and all the other emotions of grief. I formulated a master plan for grieving.

What if, for a solid year, 52 full weeks, I spent time every week with a close friend (I am including my family members who I consider to also be my friends in this). My first thought involved traveling somewhere wonderful each week. Paris with my sister Chris, Sicily with my sister Sue, Scotland with my friend Paul, London to visit my friends Anna and Liz, Australia, Ireland with Eileen and Mary Pat, New Zealand, Portland... A full year of travel, grieving, and fun! With friends!

My next thought was, "Do I have enough friends?" Any couples would have to be counted as one friend I suppose because, for a vacation, they would probably want to be together. Then, some have families. I think families would have to be counted as one unit. That narrows the list I made so exuberantly at the start. I don't think I should include business acquaintances. It might come out a bit strange, "Hey, I'm grieving and really sad. I know we only met a few times at these networking events, but would you like to go on vacation with me for a week this year? Maybe to Portland? I don't have anyone for Portland."

The idea has limitations. Another big obstacle is financing and the whole idea of not working for a full year. And what about my husband? He might want to travel with me and then neither of us would earn money. It is a predicament.

Maybe this should be classified under wacky, unrealistic ideas.

I could not, when I challenged myself, muster up 52 names of friends (even with family members included). However, it is a really good list.

Throughout my life, friends continue to be a blessing. Friendship is something I take very seriously, and humorously, and fun-ly, and importantly, etc. Friends bring life. They listen. They disagree sometimes, and persist in keeping the relationship alive.

As I continued to reflect on this need to get away with friends, I realized that my friends know me. None quite as well as my sister Ann, who passed away in February, knew me, but each knows me from a different slice of my life. It is invaluable to be with people who know you. Have you experienced this? Someone at work does not get a joke you made or understand why you did something. Then, you meet up for coffee with a friend, relate the story, and they totally get it!

Friendship is affirming, healing, beautifully present.

After continued reflection, I wonder about the wisdom of this whole grieving scheme I invented. I have a t-shirt created by a student at MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design). In an arc on the top, it says, "Are you healed" followed by a really cool eye over a red rose. Then, an arc completes the circle at the bottom and says, "or just distracted."

Am I healed or just distracted? By focusing on the fun and friendship, am I hiding my grief? Am I brushing my feelings under the proverbial rug to make them go away?

All I can say is, it's a process. As my friend, Eileen, says, "You don't get over the grief. You just learn to live with it." Why not LIVE with it. That's what I am doing. I am choosing living as my weapon in my battle with grief.

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