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On the search for a hot cup of coffee and distraction from my teaching duties I found myself in a busy coffee-shop. As I sat with a mug of cappuccino and the Irish Times in in bubble away from the world, something caught my eye and distracted me.

A stressed looking mum and two little girls had entered the shop. Laden down with bags and obviously needing a break just as much as I did, the mother ushered the two girl into a booth. The six or seven-year-olds were having a great time, giggling, heads close together, one brown one blond, pink sparkly nail-polish flashing as they excitedly moved their hands. And as I watched the display of friendship I couldn’t help but overhear the mum give out : “If you don’t calm down there’ll be no sleepover tonight!”

This shocking statement sent the two girls into a flurry of promises and pleading. However it’d didn’t escape me that they also held hands, grabbing on to one another in an attempt to stop the forced separation.

As I watched the little scene unfold before me I couldn’t help but wonder about friendship, and why it is so important. Why do we hold on to some and others flit in and out of our lives, how do we even pick them?

I have some very good friends, some I have know for years others not so long. But I have also had friends that were really important, close, for a  time but who then have disappeared from my life. No fights, no arguments, just life drifting us apart.

With Facebook poking, liking and reminding us of all the people we know, or knew,  it’s sometimes seems friendship has lost it’s value. We have hundreds of people waiting to answer our questions online, only a few finger clicks away. But the time you actually spend with someone, heads close, thoughts shared, secrets whispered has become more rare in our hectic day-to-day lives.

What makes a friendship work and last  seems to be a bit of a mystery, Greek philosophers and even Freud have written essays and letters on the topic. It seems to be a combination of proximity, time, commonality and differences, a mix of experiences and affection all stirred up into one big friendship cocktail.

Luckily for me this week is filled with three such cocktails, catch-ups over coffee and chat, sparkling moments in an otherwise busy, slightly frantic week.

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same

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