Friendship. n. “The emotions or conduct of friends,” states the Oxford College Dictionary. I guess that would define a friendship—in a bare bones kind of way. But it doesn’t begin to address the cartilage, the glue that holds those bones together, nor the healing process when those bones crack or break.

I am currently losing a friend, Claire. She’s dying. We may have her with us for several more weeks, or perhaps just one more day. Out of my purview. Hell! It’s totally out of my control! But she plagues my thoughts day and night. My heart is so heavy; my mind is dulled. I can’t shake the sadness, even though I know that doesn’t help her, her family, or certainly not myself.

Yet, on the other hand—and it’s interesting, downright synchronistic, how these things happen—my “best friend” of even longer duration than my very long friendship with Claire, came for a couple days’ visit. We have these visits every few months, Mary and I. Girl Time. Best Friend Time.

Mary knows Claire, through me. And we couldn’t avoid the conversation, although we kept it brief, about the inevitable time when one of us goes. But we kept most of our time together filled with serious and silly discussions. We vented; we counseled; we teased; we laughed. Oh, how we can laugh!

When Mary left yesterday, we hugged goodbye extra long and extra hard, enveloped with the essence of Claire. But we said how lucky we are, to be such good friends for so many, many years and to still be able to drive however many miles necessary to keep up our regular visitations.

So this is a time for me to contemplate my blessings, the blessings of friendship. How we share our victories, our sorrows, our family accomplishments, our private worries. How we enjoy just talking together, idly, or fervently, for hours.

I have so many wonderful tried and true friends, bless them. But I also have some friends with whom I’ve been close for at least 60 years. Mary and Claire, of course. Then there’s Dorothy in Auburn and Mireille in France.

How awesome is that?