By Cheryl Mattox Berry
I feel sorry for people who say they don’t need friends. I can’t imagine my life without them. Friends make life more fun, interesting and bearable.
The importance of friendship was driven home recently with two poignant stories in the media.
In one story, an elderly woman wrote a letter to a neighbor, whose name she didn’t know, asking the younger woman if she would be her friend because everyone she knew had died.
The neighbor, who was married with children, was so moved by the request that she immediately befriended the woman, who is now like a member of the family.
This story broke my heart, and then lifted my spirits. Can you imagine how many lonely seniors are out there?
The second story was about the eight* patients who died at a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home after Hurricane Irma due to a power outage and failure of portable air coolers. Three of the women, ages 78, 48 and 99, had no family and relied on friends to look after them when they became ill.
Without friends, who would have marked their passing with fond memories, tears and a toast?
Researchers have found that having friends improves your physical health, extends your life, keeps your mind sharp, helps you cope with rejection and gets you through the tough times.
My first best friend, Jackie, and I met in Mrs. Cloyd’s fourth grade class. That was more than 50 years ago. Although we live in different cities, we’re in constant contact, and I know what’s going on in her life and vice versa.
A minister, Jackie sends texts each week with beautifully written prayers for me and my family. She has filled the prayer warrior void left by grandmother, who passed away in 1991.
I’m still close to friends from junior high school, high school and college. We might not speak for three or four months but pick up right where left off when we do talk. We have honest discussions about children, parents, men, aging, weight, hair, makeup, etc. No subject is off limits, and we value each other’s opinion.
Although I cherish my time alone to read, write and meditate, I make a point of coming out of my cocoon to connect with friends. They energize me, challenge me and uplift me. They make me a better person.
*A ninth patient died Sept. 19 at a local hospital.