It's a word I use often, "friend". I consider quite a few people to be worthy enough of such a title and hope that they return that honor.
Funny thing, that stuff called friendship. Because what makes a friend a friend?
Certainly it is not merely helping you out if you're in trouble (parents often do the same) or sharing a laugh with (random strangers will suffice). And I hope friends are not the only people you grant favors to without expecting something in return within a short period of time.
So what is the substance that creates friendship? Certainly, it is a connection, a kinship, beyond any other. There is a genuine joy to see the other person happy, without envy or jealousy. It is delighting in seeing a friend grow, mentally, to blossom into the person they should or want to be. To fulfill their dreams is a like looking into a fractured mirror, and seeing a part of you being grateful. It is to live more than just your own life, but to live and enjoy through the eyes of friends and substantially increase the joy for everyone.
And of course, it is being there for someone when asked, and particularly when not asked. To be a friend, is to know when to lend a hand or a shoulder to cry on. To pick them up gently, and whispering encouragement in their eyes when the road of life seems too rough. To give a friend the strength of mind, the self assurance, to walk on. Over the mountains, if need be.
A friend is a guide through life, who does not know the way any more than you do, but will help you go on anyway.