The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend. ~Aristotle
One doesn't know, till one is a bit at odds with the world, how much one's friends who believe in one rather generously, mean to one. ~D.H. Lawrence
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. ~C.S. Lewis
In the last month, I have witnessed the steady, silent departure of more than a dozen "friends" from my life, their craven exits unannounced and equally unwelcome.
But given the choice between sharing Life's journey with several hundred fair-weather acquaintances or a few dedicated souls whose unwavering loyalty has been proven, I will choose the latter. Always.
The people in your life who mean the most are the ones who stand by you, who encourage you, who uplift your foundering spirits and restore your abject hopes when the light of optimism has waned to a nearly imperceptible flicker. Their remonstrations for emotional strength when you are two quarts low are often my only source of motivation. For these friends - few though they may be - I am now and will eternally remain - profoundly grateful.
If this experience has taught me anything, it is to value those friends whose hearts remain inexplicably entwined with yours through every tribulation. Sometimes those people are the ones you least expected to weather the storm with you, but they are the ones to be cherished. There is no greater joy than knowing you have an ally (several, if you're quite fortunate) who will take your hand, hold it in theirs, and speak the most tender words you'll ever hear: "Come on, we're in this together, every step of the way."
A month ago, I cried rivers of tears over the friends who left. Now, I shed tears of thankful joy for those who remain. They are my life support, my champions of hope, my beacons of light in these darkened days. These precious souls cannot possibly fathom the depths of my gratitude. I will owe my present survival and any future success to their kindness. By trading the artificial for the authentic, an illusion for reality, perhaps I have not lost so much after all...