By Jack Cumming

Working in senior living can sometimes seem like more than one can bear. Then, we realize the friendships and caring people who are drawn to this life of caring. Today, in reflecting on that, I came across the wisdom of Jess Johnston, who posts on Facebook, and who introduces herself succinctly. “Hi, I’m Jess Johnston, and I like coffee and french fries. This space is for us to come as we are.”

The Highest Honor of Friendship

Here’s her message, which speaks to the truth and sadness of senior living and much more.

She writes:

The highest honor of friendship isn’t getting invited to “that party” or out on a girls’ weekend. It’s not clinking champagne glasses at fancy brunches or wearing matching shirts on a beach in Florida. That all is nice and fun and good and special, but it’s not what it’s about, not at all.

The real honor of friendship is being invited into someone’s REAL. It’s getting an invitation into the nitty gritty, the not-so-pretty, the hard stuff, the vulnerable stuff, the weird stuff, the unpolished stuff. It’s being welcomed into a home where the sink is full of dishes and the laundry is covering the couch. It’s entering the places of heartache and pain.

It’s being invited to the hospital room when your friend is still in her mesh underwear from birth. It’s sitting cross-legged in old sweats on the floor and laughing till you cry. It’s carrying around secrets that you’ve been trusted to keep. It’s listening and hearing. It’s holding space for each other. It’s answering phone calls just to talk something through.

The highest honor of friendship isn’t found in beautifully planned events or brightly filtered photos.

The highest honor of friendship is messy and dingy and real. It’s in unfiltered photos of laughing so hard your double chin is showing. It’s loving each other’s babies and holding each other while you ugly cry.

I can’t stress this enough:

If you’ve been invited into even one person’s real, you are blessed.

Cherish it.

Take Time to Savor Those Friendships

That’s so true and so profound. I can’t help sharing it so you can know how beautiful you are and the difference that you are making in the lives of so many. True friends are those people who are there for us when we’re down and ready for nothing more than a half-gallon of chocolate ice cream.

When you are in senior living, you are friend to many whose friends have gone before them. Too often, you are a beacon of light in a darkening world as life nears its end and closes. Take time to savor those friendships, brief or long though they may be, and to continue to love those who have passed into the great beyond, as they, in turn, continue to love us.

Let your love radiate from your inner soul to sustain a world of wonder. Know that you are loved and cherished.