A Friend Closer Than a Brother

My family has a strange habit of adopting brothers. My dad’s closest friend since he was a small boy was Bobby. They played on the streets of the South Bronx together (when that part of NYC still had farms), they went to school together, they went to war together, and they grew old together. I only ever knew my dad’s friend as Uncle Bobby and his children were always my cousins, closer than my real cousins.

Some of you know that 2006 was very difficult for me and my family. My grandmother died right as the year started soon after my mom was diagnosed again for lung cancer. After many months of struggling and hanging on, my mom died in September. Then right before Christmas my Uncle Bobby became ill. He went into the hospital with a clot in his leg only to find out his body was riddled with cancer. He died two days later.

My dad has suffered many deep losses this year. His mother, his partner of 50 years, and his best friend since childhood–a friend closer than a brother.

Elliot writes about a presentation he gave to his 12th grade English class on two Leslie Feinberg books he read. The teacher asked him to share what he hopes his classmates will walk away with from hearing his presentation. Elliot writes:

So I told them that I wanted them to think about how much they valued their friends, because sometimes friends can be more family than our own relatives are. I followed that by saying that, in both Stone Butch Blues and Drag King Dreams, the main characters find the place that they know they really belong with members of their Chosen Family, and, in my personal experience as a Transguy, the same has happened. The Transgender people I have encountered and become friends with have truly become my brothers and sisters, and I feel a connection with them that I have never felt with any of my biological family.

In another entry, Elliot lists some of those key friendships in his life, which reminds me of a practice I used to do every New Years. I would list all the significant people in my life. These were the people I would go out of my way to see, to pray for, to send cards to, to encourage.

Life gets crazy with school and work and chores. Elliot’s post reminds me to put into priority what really matters–people. One of my favorite saying of Jesus is Greater love has no one than this, that one would lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

This post has 6 Comments

  1. Elliot on January 9, 2007 at 1:48 am

    Thank you, Peterson. You’re a great brother to me. One of the best, in fact. Please don’t ever forget that.

  2. brittanicals on January 9, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Thank you.

    My husband used to always wonder why I clung so closely to my friends. Now, this past year when he has been through many surgeries (one a quite major back operation that has called for a grueling recovery), and we have needed help, love and support just to get through…well, lets just say that now he truly “gets it.” When he was hospitalized for a week, and I was driving an hour each way to the hospital while making arrangements for out four boys, it was my friends who gathered round me with love and support, and meals and help. They proved to be family for me, and he was able to rest in that.

    Why should the contact and love we all need be limited by strands of DNA, anyway?

    Much love to you and your father. I hope that 2007 can be a joyful year.


  3. Anna HP on January 9, 2007 at 8:48 am

    I’m sorry to hear about your and your fathers losses, I wish for this year to be better for you both. I almost lost my best friend, who is like a brother to me, and I have never been that scared in my life because I know it would have destroyed me. But going through that brought him and me even closer and we both learned great things from it.

    And yes, I have a few friends I would give my life for any day 🙂

  4. alex resare on January 9, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    During the last years I have grown to learn how my friends really are a important part of my family and also how I have to work on my friendship with my birth family. I have to learn to know them as friends to really appriceate them as family members.

    I still get nervous when you, or someone else who I know say something like “…to put into priority what really matters–people”. Don’t you know that God has to be what really matters? Yes, I know you do, I know that God wants us to love each other but I have hidden myself behind a false image of God for so long that told me that taking time to love my loved ones wasn’t allowed. That I had to put my energy into strangers and people I didn’t like. That being a Christian limitated how much I was allowed to love and forced me to like everybody (exept for myself).

  5. Elliot on January 9, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    I understand what you’re saying, Alex. But something that my pastor said at services on Sunday relates to this. She said: “The people in our lives are like gifts from God. They are physical reminders of His love.” God is still the one who loves us most, but our real friends give us long-lasting love, too.

  6. Elliot on January 9, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    In fact, I think that really good friends aren’t “like” gifts from God — I think that they ARE His gifts.

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