Monday, March 28, 2016


I have been thinking a lot about old friends in the past year. One reason is the obvious- like me, my old friends are also getting older. A second was brought about by the death of a really special friend last year, a friend from whom I had been disconnected for many years due to distance and changing times and places. I managed to visit him six weeks before he died and I will be grateful for that final opportunity.

Over the years I have made several moves, halfway across the country. We have developed many friendships in these different places. But some of these are hard to maintain over such time and distance.

When one is younger, we don't think about the end of life times. Even when friends die at an early age it doesn't truly register that someday this will be more common. My college roommate died in our mid-20s. Then two of my best high school-era friends (one from my high school and one from Illinois that I had met at a summer program) died of AIDS in our 40s. These were not the rule, however. These were exceptions. Sure, the losses hurt and I grieved. But it didn't spur me as much as it could have to maintain connections.

Maybe being past the mid-point of my 60s and the death of the friend who was truly unique in my and my wife's life got me thinking in new ways. As a result in the past year I have made two really important reconnections. One was with a high school friend and then with my college friend and his wife for whom I was best man at their wedding and he was mine. Both of these relationships were- and are- of the deep and important kind. With my HS friend it was almost 50 years since we last saw each other; with my best man, we have hardly been in contact for over 30 years.

I say that with sadness and deep regret.

Yet I am also aware of the possibilities that still exist. It is odd, though. We suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, get back in touch with each other.  What do we still have in common other than those formative college and young adult years? How have we changed and grown? What if we were friends but that friendship can't be sustained now?

How, in fact, does one even go about that?

We have made a start. It is not rocket science- we keep in contact. We share what we can over the thousand mile distance between us. It's not as easy as keeping in touch with people down the street or in the next state, but I am hoping it can be done. 

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