Recently in the community which I live, three wonderful people were taken far before their time leaving many reeling from the loss. Beyond just an occasional passing in town, I did not know the individuals well personally. Yet, I do know rather well people who were very very close to these three, and who valued their friendships deeply. It is from my friends who were their friends that I gain insight of just how much our community is going to feel the ache from this loss for a long long time. As I contemplate the empty-hole left in many people's life at this loss, I am struck by just how meaningful true friendships are:
Your Lucky If You Enjoy a True Friend
For many, close friends are rare. Yes, there are always people around. But, to have someone you can laugh and cry with, share your pain and sorrows, and travel through this life together makes you a very blessed person . If you enjoy that kind of friend, you are indeed fortunate beyond many people. It was the famous Helen Keller, blind from birth, who said, "Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking in the light alone." If you have one of those kinds of friends, consider yourself very very wealthy.
Put High Value on Your Closest Friendships
Over and over again during my short fifty-seven years of life among many cultures around the world, I've watched people lose focus on their friendships. Other less important trivial pursuits of life ouster friends into a far away place while less consequential activities crowd over busy lives.
I remember a conversation with a person years ago on this very subject. While listening to him speak of the busyness of his life, his cramped lifestyle, and his many responsibilities I asked him a question, "Frank, if your house was on fire and all your family made it safely out, and you could remove only one thing from your home before it burned to the ground, what might you rescue from the burning flames?" Without any hesitation he blurted out, "All of our photo albums of our family and friends!" That was back in the day before internet, Face Book, and all the other photo stuff we enjoy today. As I continued to look him in the eyes my obvious reply came, "So, why not clear your life now of most the other stuff, and put a high priority on your family and friends who are right next to you now in this thing called life?"
Many times people make decisions in organizations, relationships, and futures based upon a list of priorities with little consideration given to friendships and relationships. I've learned to keep my closest friendships a high priority throughout my life.
Be a Friend to Your Friend
Henry David Thoreau back in the 19th century removed himself from community for several years living by himself apart from people in total isolation just contemplating life. Concerning friendship he said, "The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend."
A story told me decades ago, whether it is true or not I do not know, was about a little girl needing a life-saving kidney transplant in the early seventies. Her eight year old brother matched almost a perfect donor. Everything was explained to the eight year old brother about how he might save his sister's life by giving her one of his kidneys.
As they laid side by side and preparations to begin the procedure were underway, the brother looked at his parents and said, "Bye bye mommy and daddy." His Dad a bit perplexed replied, "Hey buddy, we will be right here!" The brother replied, "Hug sissy for me." Puzzled, mom softly answered, "You can hug her for yourself." You see, the little brother assumed in his adolescent mind, that giving his kidney meant giving his life.
Friendship is always about giving more than receiving, and the more the reciprocal the giving to one another, the more deep-rooted friendships become.
The Fragility of Life Teaches Us to Value Our Friendships
I am often perplexed and dismayed over the meaningless, mindless, and self-focusedness over which people are willing to damage and ultimately lose their friendships. Once I witnessed two lifelong friends battle over a disagreement with each other. Each insisted the other was wrong demanding an apology and admission of guilt. Each stood their ground refusing to give into the other's demand. Walking away from one another, their silence and isolation continued for two years until one of the friends was diagnosed with a terminal fast-acting cancer. His life in this world was over in just six short months. The other man greatly regretted the time wasted over a rather petty dispute.
Life is way too short, only but a breath, to allow the petty little stuff that comes up and short circuits our relationships. One phone call can change your whole life announcing that a person someone you cared for is now gone. Value that friendship today because today, right now, is all any of us actually possess.
Deeper Pain Deeper Friendship Deeper Blessing
Having performed many funerals, I've observed on many occasions that the richer the friendship which existed between two people in life the deeper the pain seems at the lost of that friend. There appears to be a direct correlation between close friendships and pain at the loss of that friendship in death. Many times funerals have come and gone with nothing more than an obligatory almost emotionless response to the passing a person. That in itself tells me something. But, at other funerals the deep level of pain I've noticed by friends and family tells another kind of story.
More than once at an appropriate time long after a funeral, I've sat down and inquired about the person who had passed. "Please tell me about your friend," I often begin. Sometimes, their amazing stories of friendship left me tingly. I can't tell you the incredible rich stories of relationships I've been blessed to hear. Here's a thought to ponder:
Is it possible that perhaps our deep felt pain at the loss of a friend points to just how much we were blessed to enjoy such a relationship? And, is it possible that because of the loss of a close friend that the loss itself highlights forever in our lives just how special that person was to us during their earthly life with us?
Yes, the loss is tragic, the pain enduring, and the memories dripping with emotions, but the fact that I hurt so much and deeply tells me just how special that friend was and is and will always be to me - no matter what . . .
Just My Thoughts,