About a week ago, a friend from the UK, who I’ve known since we were tiny tiny babies, sent me a message. She was upset because she wasn’t sure if the address to which she’d been sending Christmas cards and various gifts to my family – out here in Australia – was correct. It wasn’t, and together we discovered I hadn’t received a single thing she’d posted over the years.
“I’m hopeless,” she said, “and to think all these years you may have thought I didn’t really give a monkeys…”
But the truth was it was me who was the hopeless one. I had never, EVER sent her a card or present from us here in Australia, and I have the right address. For me, there was no excuse. Did it mean that I really didn’t give a monkeys about her over the years?
Absolutely not. I love her dearly, despite my crapness.
To her, however, there was only silence, and I thought perhaps the self-reprimand was indirectly aimed at me. Unorganised, thoughtless and”off with the fairies” me. I felt awful and didn’t really know what to say.
It seemed my worries were unfounded. A few days later, a package arrived in my letterbox. I recognised the handwriting immediately, and I excitedly brought it inside to open with a cup of tea. My girls of course wanted to help.
“Oooooh, a present mummy! Is it your happy birthday? Can I open it? Pleeeease?”
It wasn’t my birthday, and I could think of no other logical explanation for the package. I knew she was going to make me cry… and I was right. The tears starting tickling immediately as I stared transfixed at a beautifully handcrafted journal covered in deep red love hearts. It was accompanied by a card, which congratulated me and my husband on our (fairly) recent marriage, and hinting that there was more to the journal than first met the eye.
“I thought it would be fun to share some memories of why Elle is such a special friend.”
The tickly tears very quickly became a torrent. Upon opening the journal, I discovered old photos – birthday parties, ballet classes, playing in the garden – recipes we had baked as children, songs we had invented, and vivid anecdotes. Each page I turned contained a special memory of my childhood and reminded me of a friendship that was once everything to me, one I now took for granted, one I now neglected.
This friend is not the only one I have treated in this way. These friends do not reprimand me; these friends do not judge me; these special friends are in my life despite distance, silence and crapness.
Today, I want to thank these friends for what you give to me without expecting anything in return. Love, thoughtfulness, and most of all, those special, special memories. You know who you are…
I cannot promise to change, but know that I love you. And my gift to you is the words in this post.
Maybe one day I’ll pull my friggin’ act together and send you a Christmas card.