Thursday, October 07, 2010

Friends, old, true, and lost

This is something I wrote in a hurry this afternoon because I feared my class would run out of discussion tonight. Besides, it's a topic that's been on my mind for a while. The group did talk about this a bit but seemed to think it's a common experience. We talked about friendship, but I came away with the feeling what I wrote wasn't that profound. Otherwise it was a great class, good discussion, lots of sharing. And great apple caramel cake--no, I didn't make it. Linda came from Granbury and we had supper first--that was really good. Salmon (my good canned kind) over asparagus and topped with a sauce of basil, chives, flat-leaf parsley, capers, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Pungent--I thought we might scare off everyone in the class, but I guess not. We had a good visit before everyone got here.

Herewith my afternoon scrambling of my thoughts on friendship:
I am still in touch with my best friend from high school—our lives have diverged, our religious and political views are very different, but we share a lot of memories and common interests in family. I follow her on Facebook, and we email occasionally. I’m also in touch with good friends made during the years of my master’s work in Missouri—they live in Nebraska but have twice been to Texas, and I keep hoping they’ll come again. We too keep in touch by email. And then there’s a friend and former neighbor that I probably first met in the late sixties—every couple of weeks, he’ll pick up the phone and call just to say “How are you?” He and his wife have busy social and business schedules, but I do want to have them for an antipasto evening, because I remember they much enjoyed such one time before.

Friendship do come and go—people drift out of your life, and new ones drift in. I remember one night at one of my Xmas trees trimming parties after my divorce, a friend looked around and realized she didn’t know anyone. Then she thought, “OF course, Judy’s filled her life with new friends.” I’ve known some of the people closest to me for about ten years, and I can’t see them drifting away—the bonds between us are strong. But I’m always adding new friends, and when I ask the Lord to bless my friends, the list is long. I am fortunate.

Every once in a while, you lose a friend—suddenly and without explanation. That’s happened to me twice in recent years and, frankly, it hurts. A woman I’ve known since the early ‘70s and with whom I’ve shared happy moments and tragic ones, moved to a retirement home in Dallas. I called, I sent emails, a Christmas present, a birthday card. I tried to keep her informed on doings at our church and with our friends, but she always is in a hurry, says she’ll call back—and I never hear from her. I’ve written her off my list. Long after our girls were out of high school, I became friends with the mother of one of Megan’s best friends, she, too, a writer. We lunched, I ate in their home, and she and her husband ate in mine, and we came close to collaborating on a book. I thought we had a good friendship. But she moved to Colorado, lost her husband, suffered health problems, and wiped me off her slate. I talk to friends who hear from her occasionally, but I’ve heard nothing and she doesn't call when she's in town. I honestly don’t think it’s my problem in either case, but it’s still hurtful.

Friendship, as most of us know, takes work. You have to pick up the phone, make that contact, suggest that lunch, exchange news. It’s best when it’s a two-way street, but it isn’t always and that’s no reason to give up on friends who are responsive when you call. I think I have a lot of friends not only because I’m blessed but because I work at friendships.

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