This last month I had the opportunity of revisiting old friendships. It was an opportunity to reminisce by tapping into my old memories of us and the emotions that came with them.It was no coincidence that I was witness and participant in the following three encounters so that I can now reflect on their importance.
What did these individual friendships mean to me then and what do they mean to me now?
How can we grow apart or be thousands of miles away and with one word or interaction, be taken right back to the beginning?
Can I also recognize these moments in newer, close friendships?
My first friend: Running into my friend of 40 years, who I haven’t spoken to in a long time, was very heartwarming and emotional for me. Any hard feelings dissipated when we experienced the level of comfort of being in each other’s presence. I felt the unbreakable bond of once having been children and accomplices in discovering new life experiences. It brought a flood of memories. Most importantly, it opened my heart to see her from the perspective of us as kids as well as that of us now as distant adults.
I learned that we can give ourselves permission to feel all of the feelings in the moment. And that we can change our perspective about someone once we become present and let go of the judgment and ego that blinded us before.
My second friend: Thousands of miles apart, we have always known that we are there for each other. When she texted to tell me about her diagnosis, I was sick to my stomach. I instantly felt her pain and wanted to jump on a plane to be by her side. It took a couple of days before we could speak to learn the why, the how and the what. None of it was surprising, when we recounted her life story and realized all the many reasons why her pain turned into cancer. I felt her deep regret, her deep unprocessed pain and grief and her desire to make it right and grow and learn from her experience now, so that it is not all in vain. It is a long road ahead. But, having our memories and the reassurance of our unbreakable bond of 35 years created a container that we can go back to as, I in particular, find ways to support her at a distance.
My perspective changed in that my deep love for her became deeper and it made me take stock of my life as well. I am more curious about the things that might still be just under the surface that I have not wanted to see. I am open to receiving support as I offer my support to her and confirm once again the importance of asking in order to receive.
My third friend: Learning about her husband’s terminal diagnosis, shook me to the core. It is not new or maybe even unexpected. But, having a deep, healing conversation about it made me realize that someone whom I remembered from our care-free college days and whom I still see as my “old roomie” from 25 years ago, is now facing possibly the most difficult time of her life. And how, we are of a certain age, when things like this can happen. It can actually happen to anyone, at any age. I was so grateful to see her and just be there in any way possible although I could really not know the extent of her pain. I was inspired by how she could still put her emotions into words; by her unwavering commitment to her family, and by her overall strength.
My new perspective is the undeniable truth of savoring every moment and realizing that only by being in the now can we create lasting memories, the type that we will always go back to with a smile or tears of joy. And the gifts that I received from these three beautiful friends are those of witnessing forgiveness, gratitude and resilience through my deep, life-affirming friendships.