August 2nd, 2011
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Friends Can Be Life Savers
The most wasted of all days is one without laughter — e.e. Cummings

 A few months ago on a Sunday afternoon, one of my friends and I met up for lunch at a neighborhood place that is casual and comfortable or as we say, the restaurant was “cheap and cheerful.”.  We both can be major league talkers but we both also understand the importance of listening so it’s not as though we are always talking over each other.  A lot of serious things were happening to both of us and we needed to commiserate.

The neighborhood deli we picked has good basic salads and sandwiches and by meeting there on a Sunday, we thought it would be quiet place to hang out and talk.  Our food had been picked up and we found a table that was out of the way.  We had arrived for a major talkfest and couldn’t wait to get started.

We were primed for discussion and instantly started talking about parenting issues, her husband, my lack of one, politics, our volunteer work and other things in our lives that we are passionate about.  I liken this kind of talking to something close to a mental exercise where you take a problem apart, analyze it and then try to find a solution to it.  It’s somewhat similiar to untangling a piece of string.  You constantly examine the problem because you need to continuously look at it from different angles before you can figure out how to get the knot undone.

We were yakking away and eating.  At some point, we had noticed that another woman had come in by herself and was eating her lunch a few tables away.  She seemed oblivious to us and was reading a book while eating her sandwich.  I can’t even remember what we were talking about but suddenly the woman burped REALLY LOUD.

Okay, no one burps like that woman burped in public; especially in a small place where everyone knows who the burpee is.  This was like a guy’s burp; really deep and loud.  It could have been an accident but who cares.  My friend and I stopped talking and stared at each other.  It was almost as though we weren’t sure we had both heard what we know we heard.  We looked over at the woman to see if she was going to excuse herself or at least say something.  She kept reading her book as though nothing happened.  It was as though she was at home and no one else existed.

And then she burped REALLY LOUD again.

This time we started laughing so hard we couldn’t even talk.  Every time we looked over at her we started laughing again because she didn’t care, wasn’t embarrassed and was perfectly happy to keep on burping.  I think it was the combination of this woman’s lack of concern mixed with the fact that we knew we shouldn’t laugh at her but that made us laugh even more.  I swear we couldn’t eat or finish a sentence for a good 10 minutes.  It reminded me of when you see something funny in church and you want to laugh but you know you shouldn’t and that makes whatever happened even funnier.

Everyone should have a friend that shares the same sense of humor because laughing together lightens your outlook on life and gives you a reason to believe that things will actually be okay.  I find that the more I think about all the problems I have as a single parent, the more stressed out I get.  Spending time with a trusted friend, sharing your innermost fears, your sadness over the loss of a loved one or bitterness about a work problem is priceless.

Friendship is a wonderful gift.  Having good friends takes the sting out of the bad times and gives more sparkle to the good times.  Laughing and enjoying yourself doesn’t mean we have forgotten the loved ones we have lost.  It just means that our broken hearts are beginning to mend.

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