Friendship - National Marriage Week 2019Marriage and Family
I was struck recently by how certain television series gain cult status. Obviously, the current one is a Game of a Thrones, but surprisingly the nineties series Friends has seen a real resurgence in popularity. My grandson was even telling me all about it the other day!
I remember it first time around, as women tried to copy Jennifer Aniston’s hair and the fortunes of the group of friends occupied much discussion.
This got me thinking about friendship and a similar group of which I was a part. While a student at the then London Bible College, a group of six of us would walk each night us after studying around the Inner Circle of Regents Park. We were all very different, but bonds were made, stories were told, relationships built and the ups and downs of student life shared. We laughed, sometimes cried, shared secrets and stood by each other. Above all we had a lot of fun.
So why write about this during National Marriage Week? The reason is that my greatest friend in the group became my husband and I believe that the roots which were formed through our friendship became the best foundation for an amazing marriage lasting forty-nine years. Tony was my friend, my soulmate and lover. He encouraged me, supported me, and we adored each other.
Of course, all was not always easy and in case you think I am just looking at this through rose coloured spectacles there were of course the difficult times, indeed three major crises, but I believe that it was the friendship we had which gave strength to our love and made the journey such an exciting adventure. The bible talks of the faithfulness of a friend and that early friendship which grew over the years enabled us to invest in and work at our marriage.
This was never more the case than when, just over five years ago, we faced perhaps our greatest challenge. Tony was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s’ disease. The memories of those early friendships, our family life and even the ups and downs became more precious than ever.
A friend is loyal, is someone to laugh with, and we did a lot of that, cry with and talk with. It provides companionship and defuses difficult situations. A true friend doesn’t try to change you and our friendship and love saw us through. Indeed, it was this friendship which, when the physical side of our marriage changed due to his illness, meant there was still a very firm base.
After twelve weeks in hospital when he was no longer able to walk Tony went home to be with the Lord he loved. During this painful time our love deepened and we were still able to share very special moments together. Precious memories were created even then.
So, as I look back I am just so grateful for my greatest friend who gave me so many rich and wonderful experiences. Our marriage was a journey with many twists and turns, but one in which we both found great fulfilment and fun. I recall my final words at his graveside, “thank you for an amazing adventure!”
For me I know that that friendship and love survive the awfulness of death. The famous phrase of princess Diana “there were three of us in this marriage” was true in a very different way for us. Our greatest friend Jesus walked with us on that journey and in time will lead both of us into His joy.