“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”  – Seneca 

Gratitude. That is what is streaming from my heart this week. I am overwhelmed by all of the incredibly thoughtful gestures by so many of my friends on my birthday.

One of my closest friends wanted to take me back to my childhood.  While she is enduring sleepless nights with her newborn, she decided to make my favorite Indian dish, pani-puri, a fried crisp filled with a mixture of potatoes, chickpeas, and tamarind. As soon as I put it in my mouth, it brought me back home. Inside I was crying because it’s more than a comfort food.  I thought of all the countless birthday celebrations I shared with my mother, father and sister eating and laughing when a pani-puri slipped out of my hand fell into the bowl. When this same friend  called and sang “Happy Birthday” to me, I smiled. How often as grown adults do we sing Happy Birthday to our friends over the phone?  Not enough, I don’t think. Her raw sincerity and joy always leave me feeling that I should laugh and pay attention to all the good things in life.

Another friend is a gifted baker. Because she knows I absolutely adore cupcakes, she sent over a dozen homemade chocolate cupcakes on my birthday. She rocks, not only because she makes the best baked goods, but because I know I can call her at 3:00 a.m. and she will be there. Without question. She is incredibly honest, but diplomatic. And she is interested in a friendship that isn’t fickle, but endures over time.

A week before my birthday, yet another friend decided to treat me to English tea at a local hotel. We laughed and talked over sandwiches, scones, and chocolate colored strawberries. She is one of my go to gals. Our conversations often center around books, our love of decluttering, and how we value time. And because she is incredibly thoughtful she decided to take me out again for lunch on my actual birthday.  I see and talk to her almost every week, unless one of us is on vacation. I ask for her advice on how to approach conflicts and she always listens, no matter how silly I can sometimes become.

There were other celebrations. My running buddy decided to take me out for coffee. Because she knows my connection to orchids, she gifted me one on my birthday. Everytime someone gives me an orchid, I feel like my Dad is saying hello. And a single conversation with her, always encourages me to be a better person,wife, mother, and friend.

Another girlfriend just hung out with me at the house as we celebrated both our September birthdays. It’s a friendship where because we share so many similarities, the conversations are effortless. She understands, without me having to explain myself. And I adore her willingness to always live better.

I had another dinner with some of my favorite gal pals and we talked about nothing in particular. We raised our glasses and toasted my birthday, and one friend at the table was already planning my 40th birthday celebration. There have been flowers from my bookclub gals, trinkets and Happy Birthday wishes from my neighborhood friends, and lunches and dinners all week. Facebook wishes, texts, blog comments, phone calls and greeting cards are all reminders of how much love I felt all week.

I thank all of you. Every single one of you who remind me to laugh and live a little more. My hope is that I am that friend for you.  And isn’t that it ultimately? We all just want to be understood. And who better to remind us?