The All-Weather Friend

“I was ‘startled,’ Judy, to receive your book,” my friend emailed me. “You know, we just don’t know people, do we?”

She was one of three out-of-state friends I surprised with a copy of Before the Door Closes: A Daughter’s Journey with Her Alcoholic Father. They had had no inkling of my father’s alcoholism. The friendships were formed and maintained for decades without the trust of my shameful secret. I wouldn’t chance losing a friend who knew the whole truth about me.

Growing up, I wanted to have a best friend. But how could I start? I couldn’t invite anyone to my house. Daddy might be drunk.

The closest I got to having my desire for a bosom buddy was with my college roommate. Whenever we listed our preference for the next semester, I was afraid she would choose someone else. She liked me well enough, though, to stick with me for four years. But if she had known I was the daughter of an alcoholic, would that have changed her mind?

Her relationship with her father was totally different. He drove her back to college after the summer breaks. On one of those trips, she told me, he held her hand all the way from Florida to Tennessee. Strange! My father had never as much as put his arm around my shoulder.

In my forties I developed another close friendship. Her family had ties to my teenage neighborhood. Maybe she knew about my father’s history of alcoholism. I don’t know. We never talked of it, but we had a good time sharing stories about our children over lunch every few months. Then one day her name came up in a conversation with two other people. One of them said, “She is Judy’s friend that I took.” I wasn’t shocked. I had noticed the change in her and was glad I did not need to excuse it anymore.

But the friend who was emailing me about my book gift refused to read it until she laid down her ground rule: “Before I begin I want to say I love you as a sister in Christ and as a person.”

“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).

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2 thoughts on “The All-Weather Friend

  1. Judy, my heart aches each time I read of your fears that someone wouldn’t like/love you if they knew about your father. You are so very special and I know how well loved you are by the folks we both know. I feel honored to consider you a friend…and the fact of your hard childhood doesn’t change that…but probably helped form you into the special person you are. Some of my classmates have revealed similar stories after we were grown, I just wish we could have known then to maybe be of support at the time. God bless you!

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  2. Carolyn, children of alcoholics have a twisted reasoning. I pray that they, like me, will grow out of the shameful secret by shedding light on it so that others can see the way to a fuller, richer life.

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