Friendships are worth preserving

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Omigod, Omigod, Omigod, hello, hello, hello," came tumbling toward me from a long overdue email. They were written by my childhood friend, Lorna. I just recently found her and sent a brief note. Lorna and I were about as close as two friends could be. We met in the third grade and became inseparable. She sang at my wedding and we visited after the birth of her first child. Then we both went our individual ways and lost touch.

Awhile back I felt the urge to see her, learn how she was doing and what her life was like now. I searched every avenue I could think of to contact her. I missed her. I almost gave up the search because I was unaware of her last address, phone number or her married name.

Facebook failed to yield results, as did most of the other search engines I used since I lacked current information. Then the curtain slowly lifted. "My search may finally be bearing fruit," I thought.

I had decided to attempt to find Lorna's mom and dad. Lorna's father was deceased but I discovered that her mom, Maggie, was still alive and dwelling in an assisted-living facility in a distant state. I visited a computer site called People Search and located Maggie's phone number. With heart pounding wildly, I breathlessly telephoned her. Lorna's sister, Susan, living near Maggie, returned my call and fireworks exploded inside all us three, Maggie, Susan and me.

Lorna's next typewritten words in the email were, "I cannot tell you how many times I've thought of you over the years -- how can we just lose somebody who was such a big part of our lives? I don't even know where to begin with the catch-up." I developed goose bumps.

Lorna began telling her story from the beginning of her marriage until the present. Her correspondence contained over a page of single-spaced typewritten words. I eagerly hung onto every utterance and I welcomed her response. I knew she felt the same as me. Lorna and I plan to reconnect very soon and resume our healthy one-of-a-kind friendship.

Everyone has the chance to make and keep friends. It's an opportunity, skill and privilege to know there are at least a few people, outside your family, who care for you and want your company. It's relatively easy to maintain numerous acquaintances, but close friends require tending.

Because of fast-paced living, our mobile society fails to always take the time and make the effort to care for their friendships. Yet relationships are important. Despite having family connections and acquaintances, one needs other human beings to validate that he's lovable and special.

Friends are often made through like interests and values. Friends admire and love you because you're you, even with your faults and differences.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Proverbs 27:17 advises: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

My friends are invaluable to me because we each need what the other has to offer. We build one another up and rejoice at either's good fortune. Even though I have yet to physically see Lorna, I can scarcely wait until the time comes when we can actually meet.

Even though I lack the time to spend long periods with those I care about, I attempt to have lunch, talk on the phone, email, and see those special people when I'm able. Friends brighten your life because, according to Proverbs 17:7, "a friend loves you at all times."

The letter ended with, "Much love, Lorna Buckly."

I'm truly so glad I found her.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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