Today I went to a wake for the father of an old friend, and it really got me thinking a lot about friends and friendship and life in general.
As we get older, life seems to go by faster and faster, and we begin to lose track of the people who used to mean a lot to us. Sometimes we drift apart, sometimes we just get too busy. And sometimes we’re not even sure what happened, but one day we realize that something happened to our friendship and we’re not sure how to go back.
And then we find ourselves at a funeral or a wake, saying things like “It’s so great to see you; too bad it had to be under these circumstances.”
It happens all the time, but it really got me thinking. WHY does it have to be under these circumstances? Why do we have to wait until someone passes away to realize how short life is, and how we should do a better job at keeping up with the people we care about. And then we leave, honestly telling ourselves we need to do a better job keeping in touch – but the reality often is we won’t see them again until another funeral, or a wedding, or maybe a birth.
In a lot of ways, I think Facebook makes it even worse. Now we are able to see what people are up to, get glimpses into their lives, and assume they know what’s going on in ours. We fool ourselves into thinking we still have a relationship with these people if we have seen photos of their children or know where they took their last vacation.
But when we really stop at think about it, we realize it’s been literally years since we’ve last spoken. Maybe even longer since we’ve hugged or shared a meal together. And if only we had done more to make an effort to stay in touch. But things like Facebook trick us into thinking we had.
Things with some of my old friends are more complicated than just growing up and drifting a part, but in a lot of ways, those are the friends I miss the most. And it’s days like today that I realize how important it is to make an effort to keep the important people in your life, in any way you can.
I want to take this feeling I’m having – that I have after every funeral or wake I attend – and actually make an effort to do something about it.
So one of the things I want to make it a point to do is to start writing letters to the friends I miss the most. Not emails. Not Facebook messages, but one letter a month to a friend I have drifted apart from.
I know one letter a month isn’t much, and I have room for a lot more improvement, but I think it’s a start. I don’t want the next time I reach out and connect to an old friend to be because someone has died. I want it to be because we are trying to do a better job at being alive.