When the award-winning author experienced heart failure—for the second time—she says she seriously considered not making the grueling, cross-country journey from her home in Chappaqua, New York to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to wait for a new one.
"I was contemplating ending my life by turning off my pacemaker," admits Silverstein, who wrote about the experience in her new memoir My Glory Was I Had Such Great Friends. "You cannot understand that as a well person."
But what nine of her friends did know was that she needed them. They came up with a plan: Each would take a shift traveling to LA to stay with her at the hospital until a transplant match could be found.
"Organ donation saved my life. That aside, each of these women had a hand in saving my life, for sure," says Silverstein. And because of their selfless acts, she believes her BFFs are "living a different life now, each of them, for having done it."
The near-death experience taught the author some powerful things about friendship—and they're universally true, no matter the circumstances.
Here are 3 things every woman should know about friendship, according to Silverstein.
1. Sometimes friendship is just about showing up
"Don't be afraid to show up....Push yourself a little bit, when you sense that you're needed. Show up with an open mind to be there in any way that your friend needs: to let her yell, cry, not say anything at all, [or to] just hold her hand."
2. Friendship only gets better with age
"When you're younger, you just kind of fall in together, rather than, 'I really like her spark, I like her positive energy, I like her strength,' whatever it is. There's a patience and healing ability that comes with age, and a deep kindness and staying power that feels good to use."
3. What women can achieve through friendship is extraordinary
"We all enjoy our friends, but there's more power in it than we know. The healing power of friendship is beyond what we can appreciate in our day-to-day lives. You tap into your friends, and it keeps going deeper."
If you have a friend battling an illness, here's advice on how to be there for her. Plus, why your BFF could be the key to living a longer (happier) life.
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