Message of hope from the heart in pain
"One day when I was feeling particularly alone and down, a card from an old friend arrived in the mail. It said: 'One day she woke up and understood we're all in this together.' It has hung above my desk ever since."
This is part of a moving message that Sheryl Sandberg recently shared on Facebook. In it, she talks about her year - specifically the tragic accidental death of her husband, Dave, last May. She describes how it threw her entire life off balance, and her "whole notion of plans crumpled".
But Sandberg, author of Lean In and COO of Facebook, pulled through. For that, she credits her childhood girlfriends.
"These amazing women have supported me since I was 10 years old - through ups and downs, laughter and tears, life and now death," she wrote.
It's hard not to read this without tearing up - especially if, like me, you're lucky enough to know what Sandberg means.
When I joined secondary school aged 11, I was quickly engulfed in a big, warm group of girls and stayed there for the next seven years. Our friendship wasn't perfect, we were teen girls going through puberty in a single-sex school; squabbles and full-blown fights were the norm. But after every weepy drama, there would always be some kind of resolution, from handwritten 'sorry' notes to emotional heart-to-hearts. We became a type of family.
People told us that time would be the exception to this. In a way, it did change things. After school we split up, going off to different universities, travelling the world and entering the workplace. We chose varied paths and with those came new groups of friends. Our original gang inevitably started to fall apart and individual friendships faded, but some remained and smaller groups formed instead, groups that today are as solid as ever.
Like Sandberg, I had a moment when that love was tested. I was involved in an accident in Thailand, where many people died, and I was left with post-traumatic stress disorder. When I returned home, angry and sad, my friends came together to support me.
That was when I realised that, as much as I appreciate and enjoy all the friends I've made later in life, it's my childhood friends who've seen it all - throwing up on sofas, crying over boys and getting my first period. It's they who really matter.
© The Daily Telegraph