Okay, so I need to start by saying that I think the word "friend" is lame and doesn't begin to do justice to the group of people to whom I'm referring. Dictionary.com says that a friend is "a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard." Yeah, not what I'm going for exactly. People have lots of "friends". People that they get along with. People that they like.
I could say "family" but we're not related per se, though we share a Heavenly Father. But I don't feel this way about every member of my family (literal or figurative), so that's not the right word.
So let me describe the people I mean. The ones who ask how things are going, and wait to hear the answer . . . really want to hear the answer. The ones who pray for God's provision and hand on us. The ones who sneak gifts into our pockets, and the ones who hand it to us directly with smiles and hugs. The ones who struggle alongside us knowing us well enough to see the look in our eyes that says, "I need someone to listen" and the one that says, "now is not a good time."
These past few days, I have been overwhelmed. I knew you were there. You have been there all along. I have felt your strength, been buoyed by your prayers, comforted by your wisdom and compassion. These past two days, though, have been like looking up at a clear sky on a dark night. You know that you've seen those stars one or two at a time, maybe even in a group. But when you look up and see them clearly shining at one time, it's overwhelming. It's awesome.
Thank you for being there. Thank you for letting God shine through you. Thank you for being our "friend". I hope you know just how special you are. And how much we love you.