New friends, old friends — sometimes, we just need a friend.
This past May, on my 45th birthday, I got a text from a high school friend. We keep up with each other’s families on Facebook, but that’s about it. Still, when we do talk, it’s like there has been no passage of time.
Along with the text, this friend sent me a bunch of photos of us hanging out as young teenagers. I stared at the pictures with big old crocodile tears running down my face. I had forgotten those photos even existed.
At that time in my life, I was being raised by a single father. He wasn’t the type to carry a camera, and it was well before the age of cellphones and selfies, so I don’t have a whole lot of photos from my teenage years.
Something about looking at those pictures ignited in me a fresh gratitude for what a precious thing friendship is, and how there are special people for every season of our lives.
I was reminded of this sweet act of kindness a few days ago, when I got a letter from a woman who was also caught off guard — in a good way — by friendship.
"Roughly six weeks ago I was sitting in my living room trying to recover from the morning, when the doorbell rang and on the other side... Let me back up here a minute.
"My husband and two adult children had left for work that morning, leaving me alone in my head. Some days that’s not an OK place to be. I had recently received a medical diagnosis that answered a lot of questions but also raised a lot of questions.
"That morning, the ‘what-ifs’ kicked in and I was a wreck. Tears were rolling, my mind was wandering, doubts were raising and fear was grabbing hold.
"I feel like it’s important to remind people when they are sad, they are not alone, so I snapped a selfie with tears rolling down my cheeks and posted it on Facebook with the simple phrase, ‘Some things just hurt.’ I guess I thought maybe a couple of friends in Facebook Land might see it and send good thoughts and wishes my way. Trust me, I was in need of them.
"Now let’s go back to the other side of the door... there stood a childhood friend who had seen the post. We have all but lost complete contact with each other with the exception of social media.
"In her hand she was holding a card and a homemade loaf of banana bread with chocolate chips (which just so happens to be one of my favorites)!
"That along with her hug were just the act of kindness my heart needed to pull me out of the funk and put me back on stable ground."
Banana bread, a hug or a photo from long ago. If it crosses your mind to reach out to someone, do it. You may not know the power your act of kindness holds, but someone else will.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.