When strolling around the streets of Porto, Portugal, I stumbled upon three boys happily playing together. I stayed there a few minutes and started shooting some photos, to their delight. Two of them were very close and showed a lot of affection and care for each other.
They reminded me of my relationship with Carla, my sweet and beloved ‘Caca’, my long-lasting friend, cousin and quasi-sister. As memories abounded, I reflected on the precious value of connection and friendship.
Carla is a cousin who was born three days before me, and according to our mothers (who are inseparable sisters), we have been close to each other since we were crying but happy babies. We grew up together, we played together, even when we didn’t live anymore in the same city, by the time we became teenagers. We united again later, studied at the same high school, and went to the same university. The inseparable cousins, and soul-sisters.
We separated again when she married and moved to another city, but reunited when I pursued my post graduation studies in the same place. I moved to other countries, and again our lives took different directions. We never separated though, as our friendship was never affected by physical distance.
I have the honor to be a godmother of her adorable first daughter, who I branded in my heart as my soul-daughter. If that term doesn’t exist, I just invented it. My cousin has another daughter, who also lovingly calls me ‘godmother’, what humbles me so much. I equally adore her. The deep human connection, friendship, loyalty and love between our mothers, passed on to us, and continued through my relationship with her two daughters.
We have been together in good, sad, funny, ridiculous, frightening and very happy moments of our journeys from childhood to adulthood. There is nothing we would be ashamed of or could not say to each other. We are each other’s safe harbor.
There is a lot more that unite us. We understand each other with a few words. We lost a brother and a sister to cancer at a very young age, and that has affected both of us. She has later survived cancer herself. She is a warrior, a fighter, and the most authentic, generous, heartwarming, trustworthy, and adorable mother, wife, sister, cousin and friend who one could wish for. I am very proud and privileged to have someone like her in my life.
When I try to describe our relationship, I say that she is my memory. She knows every single and rich detail of our childhood experiences, and shares our tales with her daughters, who love to hear and laugh about our stories. Through her tales I see my life in rewind mode. Remembering some tough moments growing up, I am grateful for her ever present, unconditional support. I owe to her friendship, a great deal of what I have become.
Milan Kundera, a Czeck author, has described friendship better than I could do. Here it is.
“Friendship is indispensable to man for the proper function of his memory. Remembering our past, carrying it with us always, may be the necessary requirement for maintaining, as they say, the wholeness of the self. To ensure that the self doesn’t shrink, to see that it holds on to its volume, memories have to be watered like potted flowers, and the watering calls for regular contact with the witnesses of the past, that is to say, with friends. They are our mirror; our memory; we ask nothing of them but that they polish the mirror from time to time so we can look at ourselves in it.”Milan Kundera, in ‘Identity’
I am posting for Paula’s Thursday Special at Lost in Translation. That’s is what she asked us today:
‘Today you are given the most common photo theme: reflection. It’s not difficult to find reflections around us, but maybe this time you could try to capture something you haven’t done before… Look around and challenge yourself!’
So, Paula, above there is a photo with reflections; what I haven’t done before, is to share my personal reflection about this special friendship. And here are the boys who inspired me: