Find the Friend Who Will Row Beside You

two girls wearing life vests holding kayak paddles

Big groups of girlfriends have always been tricky for me. I’m a former only child and some of the residual effects of that linger. I’ve always preferred my friendships one-on-one so that I can dive deep with the few rather than stay surface with the many.

But finding the one or two women who understand you to your core is a challenge. It takes effort and intention to sustain a sisterhood. And it also takes someone who is willing to say yes to every part of your messy, beautiful life.

A few years ago, both of my children were diagnosed with autism and something interesting happened: my inner circle closed even tighter. The thing is, it doesn’t take a special mom to raise special needs kids, but it does take incredibly special people to stick it out with you.

So some of my friendships faded away. Some didn’t know what to say, so they said nothing at all. Some (well-intendedly) said all the wrong things.
And then there were the few that stayed center stage in my life solely because they did one crucial thing: they weathered the storm with me.

They let me vent, and rage, and repent, and cry. They dropped random cups of coffee at my door and made apple muffins for my daughter because they knew they were her favorite and I didn’t have the capacity to bake.

The friends who leave their mark aren’t always the ones with answers, they’re the ones with empathy.

At the last HeartStories event, I invited one such HeartFriend to go with me. We haven’t seen much of each other since quarantine, so as we jumped in our kayaks and began paddling, we quickly caught up on all of the good and hard things in life.

It wasn’t until about twenty minutes into our adventure we realized we had made a wrong turn. We were supposed to arrive at a hidden island, but instead there was nothing but open waters and a setting sun.

The anxiety-ridden part of me would’ve normally panicked, but being with a friend so confident and reassuring steadied my inner sea (also the fact that we had an iPhone and river guides at our disposal didn’t hurt either).

We eventually found our way to shore and spent the rest of the evening laughing about our wrong turn. But to me, that was what made our time together so memorable.

How many times do we take wrong turns and end up exactly where we need to be?

two girls in a kayak with life vests and smiles

That happened to me in a kayak and in the world of autism.

Sometimes the things that take you off course bring you the people who will bless you the most.

To More Love,

Stephanie

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