August 10, 2017

Friendship and Age

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Amy Silverstein was a 24 year old law student at NYU when she learned she had a weak heart. A transplant was scheduled and was successful. The event led Amy to write her first book Sick Girl. A book that is unforgettable. It is a keen and humorous observation of a life threatening challenge.  The book won a “Books for a Better Life Award” and was a finalist for the Border’s Original Voice Award.

Now some 26 years later Silverstein found once again needing a heart transplant and is now on her third heart. Due to her age and the seriousness of the situation this was a different experience than the first. She was now 50.   Her friends were now 50 and the friendship shown was intense, much more than the first transplant. She mentioned during her first transplant she had only one friend come around and did so with her date on their way to a party. This time friends that were older, wiser and experienced caretakers of their parents, spouses and children were there for her as well. 

Silverstein made this observation, We were grown daughters all, some mothers of high school or college kids, a few of us seasoned career women. We had become our middle-aged selves. Our wisest, steadiest, most powerful selves yet. And we discovered a new best in ourselves together because I was dying, really dying this time, and we weren’t twenty-five anymore. This time her friends came from across the country and stayed with her at length as she was waiting for the transplant and surgery. This experience led to Silverstein’s current best seller My Glory is I Had Such FriendsSilverstein has been on many talk shows and interviewed about her health challenges as well as her book. She is now an attorney, author and speaker. You may want to visit her website.
Over the years I have noticed how friendships change. It seems to me the more friends we lose the closer those remaining become. The petty things of youth, the competiveness, the jealousy and the pains from all these have faded or completely gone away. What seems to be noticed more than anything is we all are older and age has various physical effects on each of us. I remember encountering a friend I had not seen in some 40 years. I observed him as he approached. I noticed his broken gate, his silver hair, additional pounds and a face recognized only by his eyes. I was taken back when he reached out, shook my hand and said I really looked old. Later I found he had been stricken with seizures and had fallen many times. I wondered if that had also had an effect on his judgment.  

Some of us have experienced near death health issues and understand what Amy Silverstein has faced. It seems to have a way of showing us things for what they really are. We can appreciate what is important. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to receive such a gift without the threatening ailments? Maybe if we think on these things it will happen. And if it does we should write about them. Thankfully Amy Silverstein did just that and we are better for it.      


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