By Ella Balasa
Friendships are a beautiful thing. I’ve been lucky enough to form amazing friendships so far in life with people that I know will always be there for me, and I for them. I hope everyone can experience, at least with one person in their lives, the joy a deep friendship connection can bring. When we care about others as much as we care about ourselves, they become such important parts of our lives, they could simply never be forgotten. Close friendships are founded on truth, openness, care and compassion. We feel closest to those that we relate to, those that understand us on the deepest level, to our core. For this reason, I believe strong bonds form amongst those that face similar challenges in life.
Over the years I have made wonderful, true friendships, which I know will last no matter distance or time. Although some of my best friends have not, and will most likely never face the kind of health challenges I do, those bonds are still incredibly strong because of our times spent together, the memories we’ve made, the ideas we share. Growing up as a kid, I befriended my two next door neighbors. They are sisters. Today, we live in different cities. One of us lives across the country, but when we talk it’s like no time has passed at all.
I have also cultivated friendships with others that have CF that I have met through CF clinic, online, and mutual friends. When I meet others that have CF, I feel a deep sense of understanding about that person, and I believe it’s an inherent bond of friendship that is automatic to some degree. I understand things about them, and they about me, which others simply cannot. This doesn’t mean that many of my “normal” friends cannot empathize. They absolutely do, but it’s after months and years do they come to really understand me through my words and actions. Those with CF, they just already know.
Friends are there to support us through the hardest times, as well as the best times in our lives. My friends were there the day of my college graduation. A day I consider one of the best so far. My friends were all there on that day to support me and celebrate my achievements. My friends also visit me multiple times every time I am hospitalized, when life has me down. They are there to bring me food, cheer me up by telling me funny stories, and simply to give of their time, which is the most meaningful of all.
Giving a friend your attention, really listening when they need to talk, is of immeasurable value. Kind words and small gestures of genuine care for someone brightens your day and also adds much positivity and happiness to the person receiving. Giving a friend a compliment and just being warm hearted. That feeling makes me happy. I’ll never forget the kind notes I receive from fellow CF friends, with words of encouragement, understanding, and admiration directed to me. It is so uplifting.
I am so thankful for all of the friendships I’ve made, they are all unique and special in their own ways. I believe letting people close to us makes us vulnerable to possible rejection or ridicule, but when we open ourselves to others, they feel it, and reciprocate, bringing us closer. Oftentimes, what hinders meaningful friendship relationships from forming are the walls we put up. We don’t let people in completely, to be truly honest about ourselves, to be vulnerable, and importantly, to be selfless.
When we care about someone as much as yourself, when we are selfless in a friendship, we won’t let that person slip out of our lives. This is what makes a genuine friendship, a bond that will last a lifetime.