Life and Death

Old friends. What does that bring up for you? Does it take you back to a part of your life, perhaps a simpler time, when life was just beginning? Or, do you picture the friendships you have maintained for many years that help you in the present moment?

For me it’s both.

Yesterday, two of my old friends made the trip to Sullivan County. I was so happy to enjoy a meal and a hike with Glenn, Gigi and their dog, Ollie.

Looking at the above photo sends a jolt of gratitude and some understandable pride up my spine. I’ve known Glenn and Gigi forever. Glenn’s mom and my mom carpooled us to Ridge Street Nursery School. Glenn was my first singing partner, the two of us creating beautiful harmonies we learned in my living room and later shared at local restaurants and bars.

Glenn and Gigi were early and effusive supporters of my songwriting and they have always supported our alternative career path. Most importantly, though, we’ve never lost touch through the ups and down of nearly 60 years. Through it all, they both have been with us – at our side when Beth and I wed and for many fun dinners ever since. They are people who we could both talk to about our children, enduring and celebrating our kids’ many twists and turns. Without a doubt, it’s a friendship we will continue to nurture. This I believe with all my heart.

Some friendships end, of course, when geography or other life choices separate us from those we cared about in our youth. In some cases, it’s attributable to a flashpoint, but often it’s gradual. We wake up one day and think, “Hmmm. I just lost touch with so and so.” For me, that is a melancholy moment.

Heather and I were a high school couple for a brief time when she was a senior and I was a junior. We stayed in-touch for decades after until we had one of those silly flashpoints that caused our friendship to end. I always felt badly that we didn’t mend it, but it’s too late, now.

Heather died last week after a long battle with cancer. She was 63. The world lost an angelic spirit and her family is, I’m sure, very sad after yesterday’s funeral. My blessings go out to her sister, Michelle, brother, Patrick, and her two children, Max and Desi.

It was a hard decision whether or not to attend the funeral. In the end, though, I listened to my heart, the part of it that preferred to spend the day with Glenn and Gigi here at home. The four of us toasted Heather’s memory and, I believe, celebrated her by being outside and enjoying our connection. I think she would have wanted that.

This morning, I turned to Beth in bed and we both agreed that we were very lucky. We have worries, of course, about our children, our aging bodies, my parents and the state of the world. We miss those who aren’t here, the relationships that have ended and the parts of our childhood that are only memories.

May we all hold those who we love a little tighter today, perhaps letting them know now how we treasure them. May we consider, “is there someone I lost touch with that I love or someone else I might make amends to?” Let’s try to do all of this if we can, for one day, it will definitely be too late to say, “you matter to me.”

I’ll start. YOU matter to me.

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