the gift of friendship: Zuko

I’m celebrating ‘friendship’ this Christmas and as I’m celebrating I am realizing that I am who I am today because of the affection of people who chose to share life with me.

Precious people who connected with me and spent time with me and shared their heart with me. Indeed a man is only part of himself, the rest he is in his friends.

I’ve told you of Beate, Dolf, Awie, Manie, Wouter, Alan and Shelley.

There is Binty.

There is Jacqui.

There is Tania.

There is Clair.

And Melvin & Sonja.

There is Sarel & Cia and Gert & Lien.


Tinus & Iris.

Danie & Xandre.

Jaap & Estelle.


There was Adrian Nel & Johan Odendal & Gert Stoltz who have all passed on from this life for the moment.

And then there is Zuko.

My Zuko.

My best of friends.

The one friend without whom I would have had no friends.

The one friend without whom I would be a mere shadow of who I am in this very moment.

When I met her my ‘friendship-record’ was about six months. That was it. That was how long I was able to connect or be friends with someone, before I would end the relationship and move on.

If it was friendship at all, for I was unable to connect.

Unable to give of myself.

Unable to risk relationship.

People were attracted to me. They wanted to be friends with me, but I was aloof. I would be friendly & gregarious & bold, but what I would give would not be ‘me’.

It would be something of me.

My fear.

It would be a shield, a barrier which would seem like ‘me’. A carefully constructed barrier very intentionally created to keep people at arms length. To keep them at a safe distance. To keep them from getting too close.

I knew no intimacy.

I knew no authenticity.

Then I met Zuko.

She started dating a friend. We were all students. We’d go off into the mountains on weekend hikes. We’d take road trips on our Silver Wing Bikes. We’d celebrate birthdays, go to the movies and eat pizza on the beach.

We had fun.

She opened an antique shop & I would pop in for a cup of coffee in the late afternoon.

We talked.

We became friends and it was the kind of friendship I never knew before.

Not with anyone.

She saw past the smoke & mirrors. She saw behind the wall & I got the impression she enjoyed what was hidden for so long.

She stripped me of all my defenses & masks.

In her presence I could not help myself.

I could not help ‘being’ boldly who I am.

Perhaps for the first time.

Perhaps for the first time comprehensively.

She set me free.

That is it, I think.

She set me free to be me.

As confident as only a twenty three year old can be, I proposed.

What a risk for someone who could never even build a long term relationship with even a pet.

She was still dating my friend. I proposed & she said yes. There was a fist fight. Immensely upset parents. Lots of hard harsh words flying our way. Nasty stuff. Threats. Anger. Accusations.

We smiled.

We knew this is it.

We promised loyalty to each other for as long as we both shall live, amidst family declaring our union a failure before it was even conceived.

We pooled our meager possessions. Two bicycles. A bed. A very old microwave oven and an even older TV-set.

We lived as students on no more than love and dreams.

Together we discover the magnificent Kalahari and its people.

We created a tremendous boy and two magnificent girls.

We found our little wooden house on a hill and made it a home.

We buried pets and friends and friendships.

We cried and laughed and hoped and dreamed and built & lost & started over.

We lived and are living.

We found our hearts and souls wrapping around each others, merging into something we could never imagine, unlocking doors and rooms and cages we didn’t even know existed.

We blossomed.

Both of us.

We ‘became’.


Our friendship is a friendship in freedom.

We are not ‘together’ because we have to be.

We are an ‘us’ because we passionately desire to be it.

Our friendship is a friendship of acceptance and unconditionality.

We do not tolerate each other, we embrace each other & desire each other.

We long after each other & admire each other.

I admire Zuko for her optimistic spirit. Her loving patience. Her bold and brave and passionate giving of herself. Her unhindered trust. Her forgetfulness. Her forgetfulness of everything which is hard or harsh or unkind or disappointing. Her memory. How she remembers the beautiful & wonderful.

I love Zuko as I have not loved anyone.

I can, because she loves me as no one has loved me before.

If I celebrate friendship this Christmas, I celebrate it in what I have become as her affections affected my being, enabling me to come to life and ‘be’ and ‘do’ and ‘live’ as I did not know ‘being’ and ‘doing’ and ‘living’ existed.

Zuko – my friend amongst friends.

I celebrate you above all others.


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Just click this link to take a look: Theunis Pienaar in Amzaon.


7 thoughts on “the gift of friendship: Zuko

  1. Pingback: Hope, a Mid Life Crisis Discussion | "Tell the Truth Even if Your Voice Shakes"

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