Friends can be lifesavers |

Friends can be lifesavers

April in Glenwood
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April E. Clark

I’ve just learned my social butterfly ways may help me live longer.

That’s way better than killing my romantic relationships.

I routinely receive e-mail updates from WebMD ” yep, I’m a health news nut ” and the headline, “Good Friends Are Good For You,” by Tom Valeo, caught my eye. Not that “Masturbation: 5 Things You Didn’t Know” and “Foods That Make You Gotta Go” didn’t make me do a double take.

One more reason I should just say no to caffeine.

Valeo cites an Australian study by Flinders University’s Centre for Ageing Studies of nearly 1,500 older people for 10 years. The conclusion: Those studied with a “large network of friends outlived those with the fewest friends by 22 percent.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if in 60 years I’m the life of the party, socializing at my independent senior housing facility with all my single ladies. We’ll have our hands up ” still borrowing Beyonce’s lyrics from 2008 ” telling all the widowers if they like it then they should put a ring on it. Most of these men will be past prime marrying age, and by that point on wife No. 3. But it does sound like fun.

At least more than bingo or bridge.

The whole theory is that friends ” and with my friends that means a whole lot of laughter ” are great sources of emotional encouragement, stress relief and self-esteem boosting. This, according to the article, dates back to our evolution into social animals. Like dogs, we mostly like to hang out in packs.

That could explain why women visit the powder room in pairs. Or teams.

I know when I feel low, my friends are always there to pick me up faster than a firefighter at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston. They remind me how great I’ve got it. Even though they’re the ones with husbands, homes they own and kids who love them unconditionally. Maybe when we’re living in that independent senior housing facility we’ll all be on level playing ground.

We’ll still be crowding in the women’s bathroom together, too.

My girlfriends give the best advice, especially when I’m in a confused state. When I moved to Flagstaff and it didn’t fly, Megan was on the other end of the phone assuring me that returning to Glenwood would all work out for the best.

“You’ll figure it out in the end,” she said. “You always do, girl.”

I could almost feel her motherly hug through the phone.

True to our friendship, I was also there for her when nursing school and life’s drama nearly got the best of her. She graduated about six months later, and I was so proud I couldn’t think of any better way to congratulate than with a surprise visit to Indy.

To quote my best guy friend from the sixth grade, Tom Haithcoat, Meg and I are “sisters from another mister.” Tom is another friend I can never live without, and who I can see joining us at the independent senior housing facility residents someday.

Wherever we’re headed, there better be Happy Hour. And dancing.

Meg made such wonderful, supportive friends in nursing school, they even took me in as their own, releasing a balloon at their party with my name on it. Little did they know I almost passed out once when my dog Jake had a tick. Long story short, I’m easily grossed out by blood.

And anything that sucks blood to survive.

I remember the day Megan called me after losing her first patient. For any healthcare professional, the day is inevitable. Unless you’re female super hero Witchblade, who can heal wounds and bring the dead back to life. That day, Megan was understandably upset. And I never like to hear my friends cry. Unless they’ve won the lottery. Or are chopping onions.

That’s inevitable, too.

“Megan, you became a nurse for a reason,” I told her. “You were supposed to be there for that man, to help his family cope. You’re like an angel, sister. You were that family’s angel.”

Even though she was a stranger, Megan was most importantly a friend. I can only hope she’s there with me in the end.

See you at the independent senior housing facility, sister.

April E. Clark also has a best friend in her beautiful mom back in Indiana. Happy Mother’s Day Dian! She can be reached at

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