I have a friend (surprising, I know . . .) that I don’t get to see very often, and when I do it’s usually because of my work, not his, which doesn’t make for the best of circumstances. We’ll spend as much time as possible catching up and comparing notes on kids and grandkids and such, and when the time comes for us to part, he always hugs me and tells me he loves me. And I return the favor.
The last time we were together, and we had gone through our usual parting ritual, he asked me if I knew why he always told me he loved me. That caught me by surprise; I guess I just always thought he told me because he did, but before I could really respond, he answered it for me. “So if anything ever happens to me, you’ll never doubt it.”
I’m sure my nose turned a dozen shades of red (just like it’s doing right now) as I struggled to keep the tears at bay. I’m old and tired and cry more easily these days, but he said so much in that one, short sentence. The thought of losing a friend, no matter how often I may or may not see them, is difficult to fathom, especially since true friends are hard to come by. And the thought that I would ever doubt his friendship is even more so, not because he tells me, but because he shows me.
As I was thinking about this week’s blog I kept thinking it should be something about the magic of the season . . . how spark’ly and wonderful it is and how warm and kindhearted and nostalgic it can make us feel. But as wonderful as this season can be—or not be for those who are grieving—the gifts it brings are nothing compared to the gift of friendship. That’s one that is freely given without expectation and is more precious than the most expensive item sold in any store. True friendship cannot be bought . . . and it can never be replaced. Is it any wonder that losing a friend to Death can generate grief equal to that of losing a family member—sometimes even more?
So as Christmas rapidly approaches, closely followed by the coming new year, please take a moment to be thankful for the gift that truly keeps on giving, not just for a day or a month or a year, but for a lifetime . . . and beyond. And please be certain you express that gratitude through your words and your deeds so, as my friend so aptly put it, if something should happen to you, they will never doubt your love for them.