“WE still enjoy the longest friendship in MY life … distance and time doesn’t matter — I still hold you dear and treasure our memories!”
I wrote those words at 10:01 a.m. on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 in what had become an infrequent, but routine Skype conversation with my friend of some twenty-five years.
Yes, let that sink in … twenty-five years is a longggg time!
She had just finished chastising me (as she often did for anything that came to her mind) for being ‘missing in action’. Her nonchalant reply [although being anything BUT nonchalant] was “U should give up on some of those memories”.
We chatted a bit longer, while she shared some of her current medical challenges with her longstanding battle with cancer. And then, as she often did – she confided in me about a relational problem with a third (former mutual) party. And, as I often did, I coaxed her into releasing whatever anger or disappointment she was feeling towards the individual. Truth be told, I suspect that was the real purpose of the conversation. Because, you see, in the twenty-five years of our friendship – neither of us was ever ‘really’ missing in action from anything in the other’s life.
What’s so important about a routine conversation? Well, as it turns out … it was to be the last conversation with my friend…
Less than 2 months later her husband posted yesterday via social media:
“I thank the Almighty God Jehovah, for the life of my darling wife …, who slept away in death at 2:48AM on Friday January 30, 2015. A true warrior in the fight against cancer and an inspiration to many. A great mother and real friend. A faithful servant of Jehovah. Our lives will never be the same. Even when expected, the finality brings a new reality. Many many memories to cherish…”
I am indebted to her sister who had called earlier to share the news and, in so doing, saved me from ‘bucking up’ on the post.
Since then, I’ve spent much time in quiet reflection … and [if I’m to be entirely honest] in denial.
Her husband and son, and other family members are grieving her loss in their own and different ways. But, it is redundant to say that – I miss my friend…
A while back I came across the thought, “have you ever stopped to think how much your life has changed or could have been different, simply because you met one person?” Well, that is entirely my friend.
There is nothing that I’ve done or acquired in the last twenty-five years that she didn’t have some sort of an input in and the ripple effects continue… even to my relationship with my current partner.
And there was little in her life that she didn’t share with me … if I had any notions of being a Counselor, she certainly put them to the test … but I always had time for her.
She was my greatest critique and my greatest supporter all in one … she believed in me even when I didn’t and she saw the outcome long before I caught a glimpse of the possibility. She taught me how to ‘get over myself’ — she was down to earth and human and she did her darndest to get me to be one too…
In the last few weeks (including today) I’ve expressed condolences to several friends and acquaintances on the passing of their loved ones. One would perhaps think that death then is routine or common place – especially since it is no respecter of persons … until it comes close to home.
My mind momentarily flashes to the Classic movie Casablanca … with so many persons dying and marrying and partying and divorcing and living — ‘it doesn’t take much to see that [the death of my long time friend] doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.’ But she was MY friend and I’ll miss her and forever remember her.
My tribute to her – if I had to write one – is simply that she was my “real” friend and THAT (for me) was and means EVERYTHING!
I pray that God will grant enough Grace to her husband, son, mother, sisters and brothers for them to endure this season.
Here’s looking at you Pam [my “real” friend] …
Walk good, ’til next time …