“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.” – Octavia Butler
I’ll never forget the moment—the moment her mother passed away. We were the best of friends, and spent many of our days enjoying each other’s company. We were together, doing simple things—passing time. What we were doing felt like nothing important. We were just enjoying simple moments until life brought a new adventure.
Then her father arrived, tears streaming down his face. It was the next day, after he had returned home to find her listless body in eternal slumber—and then immediately came to his daughter. I watched her face turn in an instant—struck by the most incredible hardship in this world—to lose one’s mother. I had so many feelings and thoughts to share. There was a cessation of emotion in my head and my heart. How could anyone prepare for such a thing. As our parents age, we all think of it. What will we do when that moment comes?
I looked at her and her father—as they held each other. In seeing that, I understood—as a friend, there was nothing I could say. Nothing I could share would come close to encapsulating the joy and the happiness those two had shared with her mother. How could I think that I could be of any real solace? They were swept away in their own emotions, drifting far away from me. I gave my condolences and quietly walked away.
Days later, after the wake, I approached her and apologized for my leaving.
“Don’t worry—it’s more than okay,” she said with the smallest smile. I wondered, at first, how she could show any kind of warmth toward a moment like that, but I realized that perhaps she was just acknowledging that I had been there for her in spirit, whether or not I was there. She knew in her heart, even though I had stepped away, that I supported her. The fact that she knew that, without me having to say it, meant that I had done my part as a friend.
That was the right time to console her. I gave every resounding and kind breath I could. As her friend, I could help bring her away from the pain. I could help her get back on track with her life. That was simply the nature of who we were as friends. Our simple things—passing the time—that is what had built a mountain of trust that could survive anything. And in that, I know she’ll be there for me.