What Makes a Good Friend

By Theresa Bravo

Photo by Emily Fletke

Photo by Emily Fletke

Panera Bread has fairly straightforward food options, right? “Hi, can I please order a cup of soup and a salad?” However, with a side of “conversation about mental illness and breakthrough regarding a relationship,” the meal becomes more meaningful. 

Let me fill you in on what I mean.


My friend Katherine and I have spent the past four to five years enjoying catch up lunch dates, often at Panera Bread but occasionally at a pizza place near me. 

This is a normal practice when we have super close friends who are some distance away. It calls for planned meal dates in order to fill each other in with life updates. 

For Katherine and me, the tradition started with Katherine in her first semester at college while I entered my senior year of high school. She was in Boston and I was in Connecticut. Regularly planned lunch dates worked perfectly for us. In between bites of food, we would fill each other in about the events that occurred since we last met. 

Looking back, two time periods in particular between our lunch dates involved a good deal of physical anguish in my life. In one situation I was clearly hurting and knew it. In the other, I was subconsciously masking the pain and mistaking it for something else. I needed someone to help remove the mask and let the truth be apparent. 

Though Katherine had important updates and conversations she wanted to share with me, she let me have the floor to talk throughout our lunch, only chiming in occasionally with meaningful words that helped me immensely. 


Katherine not only heard what I had to say and connected to what I told her, she selflessly listened and responded to my need. 

Although anguish of her own might have been on her heart during those afternoons, she pushed them aside to help serve me, and let me speak about my own concerns. 

And it didn’t end there. Texts and phone calls with affirmation, continuous guidance, and kindness continued past the last sip of soup or bite of pizza. 

My friend’s evergreen embodiment of selflessness and love powerfully shone through on those two afternoons. They are acts I will cherish forever, always go back to, and ones that constantly inspire me to grow in doing good. 

When has a friend’s actions inspire you to grow in doing good?