A few weeks ago, I attended the EAC Network‘s 14th Annual LIGHT OF HOPE Luncheon at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY—an event responsible for raising close to $115k, benefiting the not-for-profit agency’s 70 programs throughout Long Island and the greater NY metro area. Between toothsome bites of fire-roasted chicken, I exchanged hellos with the women seated at my table—lawyers and headhunters, every last one a stranger to me, and as we clinked glasses and quickly turned to a table of laughter I was reminded of how beautiful strangers can be.
OUR VERY BEST OF FRIENDS TODAY WERE ONCE ONLY STRANGERS TO US.
It’s a gift we don’t teach our children, what with “stranger danger” and all. But it’s also something we too often forget as adults. I see too many people clinging to the groups they know, unwilling to expand their friendship “network.” By “network,” I don’t mean Facebook connections or other social media interactions. I mean the way we choose to extend ourselves, the way we choose to include others. Leaving our comfort zones and walls of familiarity to sit at a table where we don’t know anyone else. The table is both literal and metaphorical.
Bookended between our conversations about raising teenagers and our trying to make friends with women who don’t behave as if they are teens themselves, a speaker from EAC Network’s Meals on Wheels caught our attention. 73% of the elderly live alone. 75% are women. “They were secretaries. Teachers. A lot of them can no longer drive. Mostly, they’re women who live alone, and the only person they see is the person who delivers their meal.” That person is their lifeline. It’s not just a meal; that’s their companionship. The only human contact they have the entire day comes from that EAC Network Meals on Wheels volunteer. I imagine some of these women, once upon a time ago, had their own version of “frenemies,” their own lifetime of dramas and daily stress, worries over parenting and job security, health scares, and plenty of joys. Now they live alone, without anyone to visit, save for a volunteer, who comes if the program is funded and supported.
I thought about all the years I spent single, searching for “the one,” unable to realize that “the one” I was really searching for was me. But beyond that, in the end, statistically, the love of our lives, as it turns out, aren’t really our husbands. It’s the friendships that keep us afloat, the women who help us parent our kids and our parents, the women who shave their heads with us, who analyze our emails before we send them, who hear our good news first, who make us feel awesome and remind us of how awesome we are when we forget. They’re the friends who stop over with a meal and an ear, ready to listen and to laugh, eager to make a memory of our day.
ABOUT EAC NETWORK
EAC Network helps children who are abused, people struggling with addictions, parents in need of counseling, children caught in the foster care system, frail, elderly individuals, those seeking alternatives to incarceration, at-risk people seeking employment, people who need mediation, and those who need help meeting life’s basic needs.
*This is NOT a sponsored post, and I was in no way compensated or asked to share this information.