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"The Impact of Vitamin F: Why Friendship is Vital for Our Well-being"

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends leave footprints in your heart.” E. Roosevelt

I took time away from this blog to nourish myself with one of the most essential vitamins in life: friendship. I am blessed to have gained many friends throughout my journey in life, and some of them have become sisters of the heart.

This past week, Ray and I traveled to Reunion, Florida, to celebrate and witness the marriage of my sister of the heart's son, Matthew. The groom's mother, Alanna Boswell-McDonald, and I have been together since September 1982. We met at STFX in Aquinas residence, an interim residence for those without a permanent room. This was the first of many challenges and successes we faced together over the past 42 years.

Alanna led the way in showcasing the resilience and fortitude to overcome her battles with cancer. After many years of miscarriages, she finally was pregnant. Two months later, they diagnosed her with cervical cancer, and they wanted an immediate hysterectomy. She refused the operation, knowing this would be the only chance to give birth. Thankfully, Matthew arrived five weeks early, and she had the hysterectomy post-birth. A few years later, she experienced ovarian cancer that ruptured in her pelvis, requiring years of surgeries and chemotherapy.

As a young mother, I would join Alanna and pray for her to survive and see her son grow, graduate from high school, complete university, and get married. We prayed and celebrated life together on trips to Florida, Italy, Las Vegas, and Toronto. To witness our prayers being answered on his wedding day was a spiritual experience for us beyond the union of two lives.

Now facing my journey with cancer, Alanna has been the tree to shelter me across the miles and in person with love, advice, and, most importantly, prayer. Maintaining a positive focus and belief you will survive is so essential to conquer the difficult times in one's life.

Maren Larsen, the bride's maid of honour, asked me how Alanna and I remained close for 42 years, living miles and borders away. Maren is Marte's oldest friend and lives in Norway, and Marte will continue to live in the United States with Matthew. I shared the following advice with her: to stay close to Marte, celebrating the joyous times, the difficult times, and the mundane times.

  • Always view your friendship as a vital part of nourishing your life.

  • Although friendship is free, it requires watering, feeding, and sunlight!

  • Be there! Make the invite, the calls, send messages, share experiences, take the trip, buy the flowers, and open your arms wide for the hug.

  • Be honest, supportive, trusting, and loving.

  • Celebrate one another! Never let jealousy or fear get in the way!

  • Cry with one another as tears showcase strength.

  • Laugh and keep the stories of your 20's, 30's, 40's and beyond alive.

  • Grieve together as grief showcases who we have loved and will miss.

  • Pray together if you have a belief system or manifest good fortunes to the universe.

If Maren and Marte follow the advice given, the day will arrive when they will jointly celebrate the wedding of one of their children as sisters of the heart.

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