Philia, Sweet Phillia…or the importance of Ruth

Outside is pretty scary today, very loud, lots of sirens, ambulances come and go. People living and people dying I guess, but as people live and die the bits that come between these bookends of existence are the glorious pieces, the difficult, and the beautiful. What happened out there was not beautiful. The sky is blue. The clouds are white and grey. A tree throws out a few blossoms in spite of it’s sad situation; and blood is spilt red on grey.

What comes in-between appears to be a lesson on the importance of love. Things – even guitar shaped and teapot shaped things come and go, none of it matters. A roof. Water. Food enough to eat. Warmth enough to survive, shade enough to thrive, we are not dissimilar from that tree trying to push out a few blossoms despite the fog, the dirt and the indignity of putting roots down in a city.

Love abides eternal, the fact that it ever existed simultaneously enough and not enough in it’s absence. Bodies are all much of a muchness after a while, romantic love lasts just about as long as one of those San Franciscan cherry blossoms in a bad windstorm, at least for me. I have loved, and I thought love would last. Love – eros love, never lasts. It doesn’t even seem to mean much when the dust settles, once the moment has passed. I suppose I am just angry.

The only love that ever seemed to matter was for my children. It is a different kind of love, stronger, deeper, more painful. I would rather have been taken apart piece by piece than either of them be hurt in any way, but it is not this love that I want to talk about today.

It is the love we have for each other as friends, and in returning this love, care for our own wellbeing and theirs too. Hating yourself will never get you very far. I hated myself with everything I had. Blamed myself. Beat myself up. I still do from time to time. All it ever did was reduce my ability to love others, I was too taken up with selfishly concentrating on how terrible I was as a human being. That is what pulled me back – I needed to be able to care, to love, to devote my time and emotions to others that needed me.

My best friend, Ruthie is who I am thinking of here. I love her so totally, so devotedly, so completely for the fact that she loved me when I was least lovable. I love her for the fact that she believed in me when I didn’t believe in anything apart from disaster being a given. I love her for her kindness, her ability to make cake seem like a viable option, for her easy smile and her careful chiding. She is a treasure, one of these treasures that make life worth living, that make the people around them more human, more loving in return.

It is the Ruthie’s of this world that make everything turn a little gentler, a little cake-ier, a little sweeter. They are the fluff in the machine, and the steel in the velvet glove. Do not ever mess with a Ruthie: there is a strength there that surprises the less aware once they awake the warrior in her!

If you have a Ruthie in your life, consider yourself lucky. Call them up, give them a hug, tell them that you love them old friend, that you care about them. Ruthie’s should not ever be taken for granted, they should be coddled and appreciated, taken out for glasses of wine and told that their kindness and steadfastness is part of everything that is good and sweet in this world.

Love ya, Sis!


  1. Ruth

    Awwww. You made me cry (in a good way). Love you too sister – it’s not difficult, it never was difficult. Your extraordinary courage and warmth and wit and resilience and loving heart shone out from the start even though you couldn’t see it. So pleased that you are in my life. x

      1. The Paltry Sum

        She is an absolute treasure of a woman. I hope you have a Ruth of your own, Rebecca. I think I am going to tell everyone today how much I think of them. Big hugs to you too, my new friend. Women are awesome when we work together!

      2. The Paltry Sum

        Sis! Whatever happened to telling everyone that I was a fluffy little cuddlebunny! You know I am as agreeable as a bunny. See…this is why I love you! Mischievous!

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