Nine years ago my friend died. There really isn’t a nicer way to say it. She has been gone longer now than the number of years I got to spend time with her.
She believed in me in ways no one else did. She asked the questions that I had desperately needed someone to ask. She saw me when I had done an excellent job of trying to blend in. She pulled me out of my comfort zone when I was content to be mediocre. She was a mentor by action and not just words. She knew I could do the hard things. She promised that one day I would know it, too.
I have learned that it doesn’t really matter how many new friends you make either. While all friends are fiercely loved, nothing replaces what is gone. The same is such for everyone in life; a particular person-sized hole is never to be filled by anyone else. I think that was a purposeful design. We hurt and mourn for both those who are gone, whether by death or choice, to prove we are human. Many of us wander this earth yearning to be metallic and shiny, but the truth always rusts through: we are but deeply feeling humans. We carry pain and hurt and regret around like a cloak. Those emotions envelop us and become part of us. You can’t shed them easily.
Pride, anger, and betrayal are more like suitcases. They are packed neatly and organized by their handlers. Sometimes they are picked up and carried around, other times they are left like forgotten baggage at the airport. They can be shipped anywhere though. For a fee. Carrying around a suitcase full of pride, fury, and mistrust is never free. It too begins to wear you down and it too will begin to cost you things. Small things at first, but the price tag increases invariably.
Joy is free. So is love. It multiplies when you give it away. Not many things in life are capable of that. Why is it so hard to give away something that is free? We often give away the things that cost us; we tend to share anger, hatred, ignorance, assumptions, and pride. They are infectious and debilitating, but we gravitate towards them because we understand them better. We know them. We relate to them. After all, they are a part of us.
Those are the types of things my friend and I pondered. We never discovered the sole answer, but we tried to love people as best we could. We tried to open ourselves to accepting love as well. Sometimes it is harder to accept love than it is to give it. Do we as humans innately feel unlovable? Do we feel undeserving? I would wager that most humans do.
We talked about galaxies and the heavens. We talked about philosophy and medicine. We talked about sports and politics and religion. We talked about all of the things most people argue about. We certainly did argue at times, but mostly we enjoyed each other’s voices. Even in the quiet moments where one of us would nod off to sleep, a whisper would begin a new possibility. Mostly we talked about people.
I don’t remember what her voice sounded like anymore. I never thought my memory would fail me, but it has. Sometimes I will hear someone laugh the way she did and for a minute I will remember just like it was yesterday, but the memory is gone like a whisper in the wind. I wish my children could know her. I wish they could be loved by her. I wish they could let her into their lives the way that I did.
Humans get so caught up with the hustle and bustle of life that we forget who we truly are. Sometimes you just need someone to ponder the great mysteries of the universe with.