• Gladys Olivia King

I Feel Most Loved When My Friends: Show Up

On Friday, I talked about friendship love languages on Instagram and asked my followers what makes them feel most loved by their friends:

  • Words of Affirmation

  • Acts of Service

  • Quality Time

  • Gifts

  • Physical presence (substituting the "physical touch" romantic love language)

My #1 is definitely physical presence, which speaks to when friends show up for life moments, in times of need, to show support, etc.!

My Master's Graduation, Fall 2017 - Left to Right: Melanie, Ariana, Me, Toya, & Sherie

When my dad died in 2018, life as my family knew it was flipped upside down in a matter of 3 days. At this point, I was 24, so me and my friends had long since graduated from undergrad and geographically went our separate ways. The majority of us were no longer in the same city and for some, not even the same state. I would’ve loved if they were just a car ride away and could’ve come to my mom’s house in Orlando the day he died. But although they couldn’t rush to my side, they made it a point to make their presence known on the hardest day of my life.

Up until then, I had experienced the joy of my friends showing up for birthday dinners, my probate, and college graduations, but I felt a different kind of support when my friends traveled by car, bus and plane to “show up” for my dad’s funeral. At the celebratory occasions, their presence brought me cheer, but on this solemn occasion, their presence brought me strength.

I’ll never forget when my friend and line sister Ariana called me to offer her condolences. I remember her acknowledging that she couldn’t possibly understand what I may be feeling, and that she didn’t even really know the right words to say, but she ended with, “Just let me know what you need. If you need me to get on a plane, I will.” I told her yes, and she did.

I saw Ariana for all of 60 seconds the day of my dad’s funeral. Her and my line sister Nicole came to my side as we were loading into the limo to head to the burial site. Imagine that—a whole plane trip and 3 hour service just to see me for 60 seconds before she had to go. But honey, those are 60 of the most meaningful seconds in our 9-year friendship. We didn’t even get a picture, yet it’s a very vivid memory that I will never forget. In those moments, I didn't need Ariana to take away my pain. I didn't need her to do anything or change anything, I just needed her to be there. Because on that day, it was the presence of our loved ones that kept us from drowning in our grief.

Me and my friends don’t have to hang out all the time, and we don’t even have to talk all the time—but when they show up for me when it matters the most, it speaks volumes. You see, the older we get, the busier we become--balancing careers, businesses, relationships and families. So whenever they build time into their schedule and traveling into their budget to prioritize what’s happening in my life, it screams, “I love you, and what happens to/for you matters to me.” Gifts are thoughtful, quality time is priceless, words of affirmation are powerful, and acts of service are compassionate, but something about those bodies being present and accounted for just gives me all the feels.

Showing up for your friends matters. Whenever you have the means to do it, don’t let anything hold you back. It doesn’t matter how long you get to talk, or how much you can hang out—there is significance in simply being there. To look up and see your face is a sight they will always hold near to their hearts. They may forget what you said, and they may forget what you did, but they will never forget how seeing you there made them feel.

SN: To all of my line sisters and friends who showed up for me and my family amidst our greatest heartbreak—I will never forget it, and I love you so much.

- G

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