Service of Virtual Handholding: Lifesaving Friends

September 28th, 2023

Categories: Friends, Friendship, Handholding

Friends on the way to celebrate graduation this spring.

For decades, when I thought my world was being shaken to its core, all I needed to do was hold my husband’s hand and I’d calm down enough to face—and figure out how to play–the music.

He’s no longer here to do that but my friends have leaped into the void. From near and far they have cheered me on and supported me, some sharing coping mechanisms, others wishing me well along with their best advice.

It’s not the same as Homer’s hand, but it is huge, so welcome and essential.

How lucky I am.

I think of how nobody stands up for some public figures who are caught in a negative spotlight–most often the lack of volunteer supporters is because they’ve been despicable/hard on others before the accusations.

I’ve chaired and been on countless committees and several boards and I’ve seen a member turn on a hardworking, vital colleague. It’s alarming when none of the others in attendance dare stand up to such public criticism/rebuke. My father used to condemn what he called sheep mentality so fighting it has been “a thing” with me. At my peril, I pipe up. I cringe when friends share their experiences of being a human dartboard with nobody–even those they considered friends–risking disapproval by defending the verbal projectiles.

Encouragement by even strangers is fabulous. I remembered some who cheered me on at an airport. I’d left my expensive camera on the first flight and realized it as I was boarding the connecting one which was about to depart. I retraced my steps racing past gate after gate for what seemed an eternity while strangers were shouting “YOU GO GIRL!” I swear it made me go faster. As I arrived at the first gate, a flight attendant was leaving with my camera in hand. Back I ran. Standing at the door of the plane trying to distract the flight attendant who was about to close it was a colleague chatting away, until she saw me. I made the flight by a hair.

How do your friends rescue, encourage and support you? Have strangers cheered you on? Do you enjoy doing that for others?

Friends descending the steps from Montmartre, Paris, this spring.

6 Responses to “Service of Virtual Handholding: Lifesaving Friends”

  1. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta on Facebook: My favorite section of Paris Montmartre…❤️. I am blessed with support of friends and family every day. Sometimes a surprise drop off of my favorite candy (Don Don Kahn, Ker Peterson), flowers appearing at my door, a home cooked meal delivers, or a last minute invite for pizza. Too many things to list, but l appreciate them all, even you are included in that circle. Sometimes just a simple 👍 on a FB post tells me someone read it. I try to always do little things for others, spend time with family doing things they enjoy as an individual, (one might enjoy the Orchid Show, while another a NY Yankees game). I try to go dance recitals, school plays, etc. …are all equally important to let someone know you are and they are important to me.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Loretta,

    Surprises are the best but just as heartwarming is a text asking how I feel after a vaccine or icky medical procedure or a good luck message in advance of a dreaded meeting. Sometimes an ear willing to hear a rant or worry can be the best support.

    You clearly are as nurtured, cheered and remembered as you nurture and do thoughtful things for others.

  3. Martha Tepper Takayama Said:

    I am writing in the midst of one of my most difficult moments, moving to close the office I shared with my husband who died
    one year ago, During the years, before having lost contact with you, I reestablished our friendship through a Brearley magazine that came to a stepdaughter. The friendship has been an amazing source of enjoyment, support, comfort, nostalgia, pleasurable and interesting exchanges and enriched my life immeasurably.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    Only you would read someone else’s alumnae magazine! I hardly read my own!

    At a certain age it becomes increasingly rare to know people who knew your parents. I remember yours and the home you so graciously invited me to visit while we were in college. Having delicious home cooked meals was such a treat!

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    I’ve been lucky in that respect. But I’m not the only one in the room — and strength comes from helping others.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    The hardest thing to do is accept the support of others. Much easier to be the one giving it. But it sure is welcome when needed.

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