I used to have a ‘best friend’, but not anymore. There was no falling out, no melt down as we stormed away, never to speak again. In fact a certain much loved friend of mine and I grew closer when we both made the clear decision that being ‘best friends’ was both an inadequate way to describe our connection and an exclusive barrier which made us compare our particular friendship with that of our other friends. So yes, I do have a friend who I feel very close to, but I also have another bunch of friends who I love dearly – so how can I say just one person is my ‘best’ friend when all friendships are different, irreplaceable, wonderful and unlike any other?
Previous to this I remember telling my husband that I was about to call my best friend. His response was purely, ‘Am I not your best friend?’ At the time I decided that no, he was my husband and my best friend was a different kind of friendship entirely. Which of course, it is in crucial ways, but in many ways, not.
When Ramin’s ability to talk with me was severely disrupted by his multiple relapses, I went through a heartbreaking period of grief where I felt I had lost my husband. We couldn’t chat together, consult about decisions, read the holy Baha’i writings and discuss them together, let alone say prayers. A huge part of what I had considered as exclusive to marriage had been paused, and stayed paused for many years. Going through this experience, made me turn to my parents, my sister, my friends and Ramin’s family for support, particularly in figuring out how to manage our lives and emotions. Ramin spent months in hospital and then rehabilitation, learning to walk again, to feed himself and so on.
I felt desperately sad for him, but also devastated that the Ramin I had fallen in love with, chatty, outgoing, attentive, creative, protecting, expressive Ramin – was severely damaged. I didn’t know if he’d ever get back to who he had been again.
Over time I learned that all Ramin and I needed to do was love each other, expressed in the simplest of ways at first – sitting out in the sunshine, holding hands / my pushing him in a wheelchair to a simple church in the hospital grounds in Duesseldorf Uniklinik where I could sing prayers out loud for him (and he’d join in with a weak, yearning voice that teared my heart apart) / cuddling on the hospital bed, not caring about people walking around us. We didn’t need grand gestures or even deep and meaningful conversations. We just needed to be there for each other.
This difficult experience taught me that I had to redefine my understanding of what a relationship is. Not only in my marriage, but also with my friends and family members. Sometimes we expect people – especially our spouses – to be our everything! We have to fit completely to be right for each other! We have to be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually compatible, or the marriage just isn’t going to last! This kind of expectation puts a huge strain on the relationship as it asks both people to be ‘perfect for each other’ when actually no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. In marriage you learn to grow together through facing life’s tests and trials (more than the happy times!) with unity and mutual support. Ramin and I managed to do this because he just loved me all the time and continues to love me through all the ups and downs we experience in life.
So when I talk to the many friends I love dearly, when I visit them, laugh, chat, eat, cry, pray, serve, watch films with, discuss spiritual principles in action or just am quiet with – I don’t focus on whether this friend feels closer to me than another, I just love them and feel loved by them. Yes there are some friends I spend more time with than others, and some I’m in more contact with than others – but it’s not about a holding on to one or another relationship. That’s a kind of material attachment which doesn’t recognise the eternity of love, right?
In the next world we will always be connected to the people we love as the spiritual worlds of God are made from love Through love (as well as all the other sparkling beautiful spiritual qualities that we develop in this next world such as trustworthiness, honesty, patience and kindness) we will experience a true reality, removed forever from this physical body and all it’s limitations. How utterly glorious!
So, you may think it’s sad that I don’t have a best friend forever, but I think it’s just awesome – as I love my friends and family dearly, but my expectations of them are not limited to this world, are not all heaped upon one person and I don’t have to keep proving to myself, to them or the rest of the world that we care for each other. It also means that others are not excluded from my friendships. The only person you can’t share ‘some’ things with, is my beautiful husband – and that’s a sacred relationship, unique to us alone, thank God!
If you are my friend, you know that I love you. So that’s enough.