It’s been a challenging week. I took on the role of being a supportive friend. This week my community lost an old friend of mine to metastatic pancreatic cancer. He went quickly, having just announced his diagnosis a month ago.
Many people in my circles were still coming to terms with his diagnosis when he passed away. There is a lot of shock, and grief. There is also a coming together of kindness and support as stories, memories, are shared.
This community pulled together to support my friend in his passing and to provide him with the send off he desired. There is documentation and journaling and a promise of a resource guide. Those who participated in that process are all posting “I want to go like this” on their Facebook pages.
I have stayed in the background, offering quiet support to those I am closer to. I have mostly listened and acknowledged that this man’s passing is a great loss to the community at large. I have encouraged people to check in on each other. I have passed on the news to folks who knew this man, but are outside of our community.
I have another friend who is building a career as an entertainer. She had a set at a comedy club as part of a contest. So I went to the club to be supportive. She didn’t move ahead in the contest, but I had a great time.
Laughter is often the best medicine when dealing with stress, grief, anger and other difficult emotions. Our bodies need the release, and so do our souls. It seemed odd being at a comedy club when so many of my friends were looking to join in toasting the life of this man. Still, for me, it was the better choice.
I got to support another friend. I got a night out (which my regular readers know is a big treat). I got to laugh, which was good for me.
I grew up hearing “We only seem to get together at weddings and funerals.” Now I’m at an age where I truly appreciate how weddings, funerals and this last weekend christenings do provide an opportunity to bring people together.
The grandparents of one of my daughters best friends from childhood died in a fire Thanksgiving weekend. They were also neighbors and the kids spent many summers playing in their pool. The funeral provided many glimpses into they dynamics of “old friends.”
The girls are at an age where they are just starting to move away from the people they’ve grown up with. They are off at school or starting their careers. They’re no longer spending the day together and then rushing to text or talk again on the phone as soon as they are apart. They make a point to check in over holiday weekends, “When are you coming home for winter break?”
Several of their close childhood friends took different roads. They’ve already lost touch or “stopped speaking” to each other, which often means unfriending on Facebook. It’s not that the gossip ring isn’t still active. We still hear that this girl has gotten engaged or that one has a new college boyfriend.
The Mom of one of the girls my daughter is “no longer speaking to” said, “I miss having the girls over. At my new apartment I have never found rock hard marshmallows under the cushions.” My daughter said it was really nice to see her friend’s Mom and that she would have been happy to just smile and wave at the friend. But she also noted that having her friend come over and chat was almost like when they were kids. “She was nice to me again. (Probably because her boyfriend wasn’t there.)”
The grandparents who died had lived in the neighborhood over 50 years. So has my neighbor across the street. She was very sad. For her this is the end of an era. They weren’t necessarily close friends but they lived in a time when everyone knew their neighbors and counted on them. They have been old friends. I suppose I am too. I’ve lived across the street for 20 years. We talk at the mailbox. Maybe I should stop in and invite her to go for a walk.
The christening was for the son of one of the boys I used to babysit for when I was a teen. I did ‘summer in-home day care’ along with almost every other Friday night. My sister would sub for me when I was busy. The Mom was one of my mother’s best friends. They grew up and I went off to college but would occasionally find an excuse to spend the day together. Lost track of them when I started having kids and they went away for college.
I’ve kept in touch with the older brother over the years, although it’s definitely a long distance relationship. I’ve reconnected fairly recently with the younger brother and his wife. Picking up right where we left off. Haven’t seen the Mom and her new husband in at least 20 years.
With the new baby my Mom and their Mom had an excuse to reconnect. A congratulatory phone call was made. Photos were sent with a letter in the mail. There’s a lot of water under the bridge, but they’re still old friends. Me too. I sat with the family at the christening. Grandma handing me her camera to take a picture introduced me as an old friend of the family and a newly published author. We’re old friends.
The boys embrace me into the family as well. Their partners treat me like the favorite auntie. They all brag on our old friendship and tell me they are ever so grateful that I could attend. I’m the one who’s grateful. I’m lucky to have so many old friends. I just wish I’d get to see them more often than at weddings and funerals and christenings and reunions. 🙂