Empathy and Friendship

It was the start to the summer after 4th grade, I had spent the evening playing roller hockey in the back yard with my brother and my parents had called us in for dinner.  About half way through the meal, both my parents put down their forks and said that they had
something to tell us. “Your father is going to be moving out in a week, we are getting divorced” my mom said.  As these words left her mouth I remember feeling an explosion of emotions within me, everything from sadness and disbelief to anger and denial filled me from head to toe.  I didn’t understand and I hoped and prayed it was not true, literally pinching my self in the hopes that I might wake up from a bad dream, but it was not a dream.

In the morning I had made plans with three of my best friends earlier that week to go enjoy the first few day of summer.  When my friends manny came to pick me up in the morning I was down and didn’t feel as though I would be able to enjoy the day.  When I got into the car all three of my friends were waiting for me and right then I told them what had happened, bursting into tears.  Being ten years old two of them had never experianced anything like this and simply could not relate.  The third friend of mine was sitting next to me when I got in the car and he put his arm around me as I cried.  He then said to me “I was only two years old when my parents got divorced, so I don’t fully understand, but I know that is it hard.”  I wiped some of the tears away as they trickled down my cheek and thanked him.  This moment did not drastically improve my day, or fix all my problems right then and there, but it was helpful to know that he cared.

In an article by Emuna Braverman, the idea that sympathy is an essential part of brothersfriendships is discussed to some length and in my opinion, it is essential.  That little ten year old boy who put his arm around me and told me he knew how I felt, is to this day my best friend and four year college roommate.  I don’t know if what he told me that day greatly affected the way that I thought about or dealt with my parents divorce but it has clearly stuck with me.

Another article about friendship being a choice that must be made consciously for the friendship to last.  I believe this to be true because without that choice it is too easy to lose touch.  This friend of mine, Jack, and I have been friends for years, but we have not always been that way.  After 7th grade, he transferred  schools and we lost touch until reconnecting by chance in our junior year of high school.  From then on we both made an effort to hang out more, remembering how much we enjoyed each others company.

Looking back to that day I would have never have been able to tell you that twelve years down the road we would still be close friends.  I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words and, looking back,  the empathy that Jack showed me that day made it clear that he was a good friend. It made it clear that he was the kind of friend you stay close with no matter where you are in your life.

One thought on “Empathy and Friendship

  1. There’s nothing like having that day one homie that has had your back from that hard moment early on in your youth and all the way to now. I have a friend like that and he did something similar. When I randomly found out that I had diabetes when I was 11, he had had it for a couple years prior and he just put his arms onto my shoulders and was like, we’re in this shit together now! It has stuck with me ever since. Nothing like some real empathy

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