New Friends, Old Friends, True Friends

Someone once said, “Some people come into our lives for a reason, others for a season, and some for a lifetime.”

I’m working on the outline for my next novel and its focus is on relationships. So I suspect that is the driving force behind my thoughts focusing on friendships lately. Or maybe it was watching my four daughters renew their bonds with each other through the experience of my daughter Rose’s wedding. It was such a heart-warming moment for me to watch them reconnect. They have been through so much together and I suspect, through good times and bad, they will always be there for each other.

Last weekend my husband and I had dinner with some new friends. My husband first introduced me to Ted about four years ago and just in the last year I’ve gotten to know Alice. They were high school sweethearts who struggled through two marriages and two divorces each before finally coming together in their early sixties. Energy and motion come to mind when I think of these two. They are always going here and there, volunteering everywhere! I have wondered how they can possibly appreciate each other when they rarely take the time for just the two of them. And during dinner, they told us about a trip they had just taken—three weeks driving from the Midwest to California and back. They looked refreshed and their conversations about each other were much more respectful. It was interesting to witness this transformation in their relationship.

A couple of weeks ago I had the occasion to see some “old” friends whom I treasure very much. The occasion was my daughter’s wedding, so I regret that I didn’t take time to sit down and visit with Bob and Carol for longer than five or ten minutes. These two have been married close to thirty years, and we’ve known each other for almost all of those. I marvel at their ability to stick together through some pretty rough times. Of course they complain about each other’s quirks and pet peeves, but at the end of the day they truly love each other and they choose to be together. Their children are “launched” and from where I sit, it appears Bob and Carol are handling the empty nest just fine. They’re living a dream—growing old with their lover and best friend.

Another dear friend was at my daughter’s wedding and I have the same regret about not spending more time talking with her too. Linda is one of the kindest most generous people I know. And yet, if you asked her, she’d tell you she’s not special at all. She regularly performs random acts of kindness and would give you the shirt off her back if she thought you needed it. And yet, she’s never gotten a break in life. If someone’s going to get a flat tire, it’s going to be Linda. A lost paycheck, that would be Linda. An alcoholic husband? Yes, that too. Even after divorce she still ended up with next to nothing and no good turns in life. And a couple of years later, one of her children died tragically in an accident. I’ve tried to understand why bad things happen to good people, but I’ve had no luck. Linda is an angel on earth. But she’d be the first one to tell you she’s not worthy of that acclaim. I wish I knew how to help her to believe in herself.

When my oldest daughter was growing up I made fast friends with Jane. We had a blast together and I loved how I could count on her to always “tell it like it is.” A spade is a spade in Jane’s book. Unfortunately, things turned south after my divorce and for whatever reason Jane can’t fit me into her life anymore. Evidently my divorce was an open door for Jane and she cut and ran. It’s a loss that frustrates me because I can’t make sense of it.

I’ve had a similar experience with another friend. Her husband and my ex grew up together, so I understood our alliances would be different after my ex and I divorced. But I placed a lot of value on our friendship, and I have struggled with hurt and disappointment that she cannot accept my invitations to get together.

In recent years, several friends from high school and college have “friended” me on Facebook and it’s been great to walk down memory lane. I’m thrilled to have a few of them back in my life and I wish I knew of a way to pull them in even more. Time may help.

A couple of days ago my husband shared a friendship story with me. He hadn’t talked to his old girlfriend in probably three or four years. But the last time he did, Sandy was happy and enjoying her job and her life. They had once worked in the same field, so they had friends in common. My husband was shocked to learn that Sandy passed away in April at the age of 47. He had no idea. We found the obituary and it was suspiciously void of any cause of death.

My husband’s experience is one that I’ve dreaded happening to me with one of my old friends. Two years ago John walked out of my life and I haven’t heard from him since. I don’t know if he’s dead or alive. I vacillate between anger and compassion when I think of him and his wife. Was once of them sick? Whatever could cause two people to just want to quit their current life and start all over anew?

I treasure my friendships, especially knowing that I have often not been as good a friend as I could have been. And I am learning, I need to work harder at being a better friend if I am to keep my friends.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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One thought on “New Friends, Old Friends, True Friends

  1. How true the different paths of friendship. People come and go; the ones you’re sure are life-long friends can fade away without reason or choice, and then you find true friendship from an unlikely person. Life can be alternately puzzling, vexing and amazing. Yay for that!

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