A FRIEND in Need

In our busy lives, we might forget to reflect on friendship and what it really means. Here’s a part of how I define it from one of my favorite quotes:

Wherever you are it is your friends who make your world.
-- William James

With a new child on the way and travelling a few days a week, focusing on anything besides my wife and son was difficult as my year end work had a hefty inbox! One night last week, I reflected for a moment and decided to help a friend in need.

It was a Monday night and I was due to travel the next day, having to wake up at 4:30am to catch a train. Our friend (and wonderful godmother to our son) was very cold in her apartment due to the temperature INSIDE being 55 Fahrenheit (13 Celsius). Because of work being done in her home, the heater had had to be taken away. My wife and I had a portable heater that we hadn’t used in years and were planning to give it to her before the cold came to Sweden.

The last thing I wanted to do was leave the comfort of my cozy home and deliver a heater but I knew the small inconvenience for me would be so worthwhile for her. There was only one option; I drove the heater to her home. I have slept in a cold apartment before so I know firsthand the unpleasantness. Our friend was very thankful. The journey through the empty streets of Stockholm took less than an hour and gave me the chance to relax, reflect and listen to some of my classic ipod tunes.

If you are able, try to help a friend when they are in need. Are we really that busy that we can’t stop for a moment and help someone that has been an important and loving part of our life? Usually not.

Friendship comes in many forms:

1) A good friend always picks me up when I fly to America. It takes at least 6 hours of his day to do it but he never fails unless he is out of town.

2) The godfather of our son had a dear friend in America with breast cancer who was receiving treatment in NYC. He wanted to send her flowers but time was short. I called a friend and asked him to deliver them for him and he did so without blinking an eye. The woman was shocked and touched to see the beautiful flowers delivered in person by my friend. Her husband told the godfather of our son how wonderful his gesture was.

3) An ex roommate in Brooklyn, NY had the luxury of having a company car. It always impressed me when he would pick up numerous neighborhood friends before heading into Manhattan for a night of partying. He would go out of his way more often than not to make the lives of our friends a little easier. No one probably noticed but I always did.

4) When I was living in NYC, my friends in Pennsylvania helped me to sell my car on two different occasions.

5) One of my dearest friends had many guests when he lived in Madrid, Spain. I visited him after a particularly gruelling two months of work and was in need of a good time. As his guest, I was taken care of superbly and had one of the best vacation weeks of my life! I heard similar views from others who visited him.

When a close friend was living in Stockholm, he always made sure my guests from abroad were entertained which helped me immensely. Not knowing the city as well as he did, I could always count on him to show my guests a good time or tell them where they could go for an interesting or fun experience.

It doesn’t matter if your act of kindness for a friend is large or small, what matters is helping a friend in their time of need. I would do most things within my ability for my friends especially if they really needed help and would hope that they would reciprocate (most would) in a similar manner.

Never take the blessing of friendship for granted. To have kind, sincere and trustworthy friends to enjoy and rely on is a true privilege that should always be respected.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede's son attending a FRIEND's birthday party

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