If you are ever in the mood to throw a pity party call me, I’ve become a seasoned planner (although these kinds of things are more apt to be spontaneous than planned). You know the kind of party I mean? The kind with a cake made of layers of guilt and punch spiked with just the right amount of woe-is-me. The kind where partygoers sit around lashing themselves with wet noodles for all the “should haves” not done.

I had one recently – appropriately held over the holidays – but nobody came. I mean, what is a pity party without others to validate how wretched you feel and coo, “Oh, you poor thing”?

Pity parties are okay in moderation. They allow us to purge our souls of stifled emotions and let loose and let go. The set up for a party is easy. All you need is the right amount of stress, an ample supply of pent up grief or anger, and an event that triggers the floodgates to open. The clean up is a little more difficult. When it’s over you feel like Humpty Dumpty with shattered pieces of self scattered all around. But unlike Humpty-Dumpty we can pick up the broken pieces, glue them back together, and come out stronger.

One of the keys to putting the pieces of self back together are friends – friends who somehow know you are hurting and who make you laugh just when you think you might never laugh again.

In the midst of my recent party I got a call from a dear friend in New York telling me she had a strong feeling that all was not right with me. Her soothing voice felt like comforting arms wrapping around me guiding me to a peaceful place of hope and renewal. Another friend in California sent me an email that lifted my spirits with a much needed laugh. She wrote to thank me for an international holiday greeting I had sent and apologize for not getting a greeting to me. I wrote back that she was mistaken. I had not sent the greeting nor had I sent many at all this year. After volleying back and forth on the super-e-highway – with me insisting I hadn’t send it and she so sure I had – my friend said she was going to chalk it up to early dementia and start looking for a comfortable assisted living. I told her to hold off on the move and suggested that the greeting may have been some kind of Internet spam. She promptly replied, “Just so both of us don’t feel a need to fill out paper work for assisted living, let me say…it was a physical card with greetings from around the world signed by you”. With that the light bulb went on in my brain, “OH THAT CARD! I thought you were talking about an email. Looks like I’m the only one eligible for secure housing…!” My friend came right back with, “Can I be your room mate? You’re so much fun!” Our cyberspace conversation reminded me of the old Abbott and Costello routine, “Who’s on First?”

I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe things happen for a reason and it was no coincidence that these two friends contacted me at the very moment I needed them.

Friends are life preservers in the unpredictable sea of life. No matter how wretched we feel there are friends out there who care. Don’t fall prey to the misconception that they don’t because they haven’t called lately. Pick up the phone and call them. Open your door and give them access to your world – they can’t help you if they don’t know what’s going on. Don’t fret about not being able to reciprocate. A time may come when they will need your help and you can give back joyfully. If you can’t go out, invite them in. Don’t worry about the house – true friends don’t care if you haven’t dusted in a while. Just put on a pot of coffee and tell them to bring the doughnuts.

Take a few moments every day to think of your friends. Send them love and light and pray that they remain free from pain, free from anxiety, and free from life’s misfortunes. When you send out loving thoughts they come back to you in miraculous ways. This silent communication is the source of a sixth sense that keeps friends connected.

Mary C. Fridley