Remembering Old Friends

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This is one of the Lehmans’ fields, just about a week ago. Now their heads are all bowed, the petals have faded and dried up, and the seeds are filling in.

Last night I went to the viewing for a childhood friend of mine. When we moved to Pennsylvania when I was ten years old, Linda and her family lived about a mile away from us–a nice bike ride–and our families went to the same church.  Linda was tall and sort of shy; I was short and chatty. I remember hanging out in her family’s cool basement, reading each other the Dear Abby column from old newspapers, playing with her brother’s chemistry set (I think we wanted to make something blow up–what kid with a chemistry set doesn’t?), and riding our bikes down over the field to the Green Dragon yard sale and buying stuffed animals that our mothers wouldn’t let into the house.

We went to different high schools, but we remained friends, going to youth group together, and writing each other long notes during the week that we would give to each other to read each Sunday at church. On really cold winter afternoons, a bunch of us would head over to Leroy and Beulah’s pond for raucous games of MudSucker, a version of ice hockey with players on skates or in big old boots, and lots of body checking and laughter.

Linda was a loyal and gentle friend, always present in conversation, often smiling, thoughtful, and lots of fun to be with.

After high school, our lives went different ways, and I never made the effort to get back together. We each made attempts here and there to connect, but somehow we never managed to maintain the connection.  Every once in a while, I would wonder where she was, how she was doing. I reconnected with our friend Stacey a couple years ago on Facebook, and she at least updated me on Linda, but I still didn’t make the extra effort to get her number, to call her, to see her again.

This is a story about regret. I am trying to learn to sit with these crunchy emotions, to welcome them into my guesthouse (to use Rumi’s phrase). If I don’t sit with the tough emotions and listen to the stories they have for me, they get in anyway, and then they barrel around and destroy things. Regret turns to flaming shame and eats all the food in the house. Perhaps if I invite them in for a while, just to talk, and listen to the stories they have to tell me, I can learn something about myself and about the past.

This is a story about friendship. Treasure your friendships in your heart. Know that the friends you make will be there, ready to pick up the threads again when you reconnect. But never waver at a chance to re-connect, to make contact. Our friends become part of us, they shape and mold us in ways we can’t always name. I could vow to never again take a friendship for granted, to never completely lose touch again with people I have loved, but I think it is the way of the world, that people connect and move on, and the contact fades. I can, however, use this moment to remember the ways in which my friends over the years have blessed and changed me, and to be ready, whenever the moment presents itself, to take the time and attention to reconnect, to make that extra effort.

Gratitude List:
1. This weather. Yesterday’s weather was perfect. Thermal Delight.
2. Pawpaws. Like custardy mangoes. I really need to plant me a pawpaw tree.
3. Asian pears. For lunch, I have been eating a soft and tender pawpaw, and then a crisp and crunchy pear. Perfect crunch, perfect sweet tang.
4. Old friends. Even (or especially) in the painful times of death, it is nice to reconnect with friends I have known and loved long ago.
5. Fridays. Faculty hymn sing, a schedule that sort of teaches itself, and anticipating Saturday with the family. Rest. Breathing. Rejuvenating. (I will love Monday, too, when it comes.)

May we walk in Beauty!

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2 thoughts on “Remembering Old Friends

  1. I am so drawn by your words here especially “crunchy emotions” (I know them well) that can go barreling through the house eating all the food. (great images). I also appreciate the invitation — not to be that perfect friend who is always present — but to accept the hand of connection and “dance” with dear friends when the opportunity arises. This is an ever-present, but evolving, edge for my Enneagram 5 self :). Thanks again!

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    • I am so glad it resonated for you! As a 7 on the Enneagram, I have a real tendency to do everything in my power to avoid the crunchy emotions and try to pile on more fun ones in order to deny that those difficult ones exist. This work of recognizing and meeting them all helps to keep me from living on that surface layer.

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