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Hardship and Friendship

Hardship and Friendship

Sometime last year, I walked out of a building to walk unto a bus. That’s what happened—that is what must have happened. I just don’t remember it.

I don’t remember pushing the building’s door to walk out. I don’t remember my steps before I walked unto the bus. I don’t really remember much about that day after I walked out of the building. I was numb. I was shocked. I was scared.

I hadn’t felt that way before. It was surreal. It felt like the realest nightmare I had ever had. But it was real, too real. I had just received news I wasn’t emotionally prepared for.

I usually listen to music and read a book while I’m on the bus. But I couldn’t listen to anything other than the voice in my head that day. I couldn’t read about anything other than my own thoughts.

My head was filled with so many thoughts, my heart was filled with so much pain. And I tried to keep others from noticing that my eyes were filled with so many tears.

I was experiencing unfamiliar thoughts when the bus arrived at a familiar place—the place where I had originally walked unto the bus.

I didn’t notice the bus had made a roundtrip. I didn’t realize that I had completely missed my stop. How could I, anyway? I was looking outside the window, but I couldn’t see anything. I was blinded by pain and misery. Now, I was right where I had begun.

Then I received a call from a friend, and he asked me to meet him near our favourite all-you-can-eat buffet. He knows food cures anything for me. But food isn’t what I needed that day. I was hungry, but I wasn’t hungry for food. I was hungry, but I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t finish half of my single plate. I was hungry for friendship, not food.

I sometimes refer to myself as a friendly loner. My friendliness is usually a means to serve others, not myself. I’ve never struggled with loneliness. My upbringing forced me to become content—and gradually, committed to being alone.

By the time I was 10 years old, the people who should have been closest to me were the most distant people in my life. For almost half of my life at the time, I didn’t have contact with anyone from my immediate family.

I’ve never met my father. He abandoned our family before I was born. Then mom immigrated to Canada without me. Mom didn’t want to leave me in Ghana, but that was the only way to secure a better future for me. And I barely had a relationship with my older brother. We barely grew up together. He was in boarding school.

So that upbringing forced me adapt to being alone. And I’m grateful for that. I’m a more content and independent person because of that. But it’s also made me a stubbornly and self-reliant person. Too often, I believe I can survive on my own. And for that reason, I’ve learned how to keep people near me, but not close to me.

But my friends refuse to allow me to do that. And I didn’t realize how much I needed that—how much I needed them, until I became truly lonely and depressed for the first time in my life.

The next few weeks and months after that day were the hardest time in my life. For the first time in my life, I was afraid to be alone, alone with my thoughts.

And my friends knew that, so they made sure that they gave me what I needed most: their company and their friendship.

And because of that, although I can’t remember much about the time between when I walked out of the building alone and the time between when I walked into the restaurant with my friend—and the rest of the difficult weeks and months after that day: I’ll remember my friends.

I’m fine now. I’m not depressed, and I’m not lonely—I’m content. God has been gracious to me. He’s my divine friend in heaven. And he’s given me good friends here too.

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