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The words of friendship

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When I think about the people I know — or knew — in my life, I respectfully realize that I think of them not just as humans, but vessels of the memories, conversations and experiences we have shared. It's as if loving them in the flesh is equal to witnessing the moments and expressing my gratitude for the ways they have contributed to my world and who I am today . . . for all time.

This comes at this point in my life in which I am, as the professionals call it, "self-aware" and I go through the day doing simple tasks but remembering the words I have shared with others.

At home, I go down to the laundry room and I load the washer, remembering the friend who told me about her demanding preparation for vacation (and the return) with six family members to care for. I never had as much laundry to think about, but as I pour the detergent or select the settings on the machine I hear her voice and her candor. Mundane commentary? Maybe, but the memory is mine.

Out of doors, I pass the Veteran's Memorial Pool, the East Meadow Library, Speno Park and East Meadow High School and think of all the light or deeper friendships made along the way. Parents as patrons, who share a history just because we set out to give our kids swimming lessons, arts and crafts, read-along programs or music instruction. People that I may not ever have known well – never shared a meal or philosophical discussion – but because we brought our beach chairs and made small talk in the shade we expressed love for our families and shared a collective life.

You would think that it is in momentous life-altering occasions that we hear the great words we will reflect upon forever. But for me, it's always been the little conversations, grounding me and making me feel comfortable (or often uncomfortable) in my skin. Not all the words are careful. Not all the words are welcomed. But as time passes, I realize that friends bear that label because they are here to do the heavy lifting – saying what others wouldn't bear to say.

So thank you to those who have come in and out of my life. Thank you for your contributions in word and in deed that has resulted in the unexpected right thing said at the right time. I appreciate your compassion that gave me courage. And because of you, I am someone greater than I could ever imagine.

A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches marketing fundamentals as well as advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology and SUNY Old Westbury.