Friend’s Passing Reveals Real Treasure
“Friends” has rattled around in my mind for more than 30 years, ever since songwriter and musician Michael W. Smith released the award-winning song.
Especially the start of the refrain, “Friends are friends forever . . .”
In terms of eternity, that is true. But when death intrudes, for the time being we are separated from friends, leaving us with a sad heart.
That reality hit hard in late September when a good friend died from a sudden heart attack.
We knew such an occurrence was a possibility because of other health struggles that had kept him from getting out too often during the past year.
Yet, the end was such a surprise that my wife and I grieved missing one more chance to stop by and say hello.
The loss also prompted an unexpected fit of deep swallows and unexpected tears when I got up to make a few remarks at his funeral.
Our friend’s passing also brought to mind an old comic strip from the “For Better or For Worse” series by Lynn Johnston.
In it, an elderly woman is moving into a retirement home. The main character asks about her inability to take all her treasures with her.
The elderly woman’s reply, in effect: “After all these years, those are just things. Friends are my real treasures.”
Friends are a rare commodity these days. With the world moving at warp speed and many people’s ever-busy schedules, it’s not easy to carve out the mutually-agreeable time necessary to build the kind of relationships that are more than passing ships in the night.
Despite the challenges, I keep trying.
Fortunately, I’m now old enough to know that happiness is more about the people who fill one’s life than the size of one’s bank account, vacation schedule, or tee-off time.
Or, as Jesus put it: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15 NIV).
As I have reflected on our friend’s passing, I have grown to appreciate the need for building friendships with those younger than me.
Not just so all my friends won’t be gone one day and leave me feeling alone, but for the way younger people can help me from becoming a grumpy old man.
You know the kind: elderly folks who wear a frown and whose remarks often start with: “Well, in my day we never would have” (fill in the blank).
I can also learn a lot from those who are growing up in a world vastly different than the one familiar to me. And, who can navigate the technological challenges of the modern age with far more skill and aplomb than I possess.
That isn’t to say I blindly accept every new idea that young people embrace.
But considering their viewpoints and inputs gives me a fresher outlook than I would have if I only associated with other senior citizens.
I can’t offer any sage words of advice on how to deal with the loss of friends, except to say to appreciate the ones you have.
As I see it, the danger of living close to friends is taking them for granted and assuming you can see them “any time.”
But, as our friend’s death shows, you literally don’t know how long they will be around.