Recently, my son and I had a discussion at dinner time about friends. He was surprised that I wouldn't call someone my friend, rather I called him "an aquaintance." This was a person that I last saw about 6 months ago, I have had lunch with him once in the last 5 or 6 years, I see him at weddings, funerals and such.
I pointed out that there is one friend from long ago that I still consider a friend. I haven't seen this guy in over a year, and before that was about 4 years. However, I know I could call him tomorrow and say I need help and he'd be there in a minute.
It got me to thinking, what are the qualities of a friend? Before I go there, let me say that you can be a friend, without having a friend. You can have a friend without being a friend. It's not (necessarily) a two-way street. You can provide friendship to someone without having it returned. That may sound like it's bad, but not necessarily.
Let me then give an example of what is not friendship. Recently, I was with some aquaintances that I see at least once a month. Conversation slowed down and one person asked a question about how a certain aspect of my life was progressing. After listening to the first sentense, this aquaintance went on to another subject. They did give great details on their life and I listened patiently, even asked questions. At the end of our time together, we said our niceties and went our separate ways.
So what is a friend? Someone who wants to share your joy, share your pain. Someone who laughs with you (and VERY occasionally at you) and someone who cries with you. Someone who you can call and know they will listen, and maybe even have answers to questions. Someone who will challenge you when you're down and will support you on your way up. A friend is someone who will listen to your embarrassing stories and say "that's not bad", but will also tell you when it is.
Here's to friends.