Reflections on Friendship
Friends come and friends go.
Some friends are there when you need them the most.
My first best friend was Gary in the fourth grade. We would visit each other’s homes after school, occasional sleepovers. Eventually, we went to different schools but we stayed connected through scouts. His father was the scoutmaster.
Some 20 years later I saw him walking on a downtown street. He worked for a mortgage company near where I worked at an advertising agency. We chatted.
Another 10 years later, at a home and garden show, I spotted him from a distance but lost him in the crowd. Gary was gone.
My high school was small, as was my class. There were 68 of us in the Class of ’68…imagine that. And we’re all 68 years old!
Many high school friends have stayed local. We remain speaking acquaintances. Others moved away, some have been found for our 50th reunion this fall. Others are yet to be located.
One close high school friend is now an Episcopal priest in Oregon. Another is still to be located. I had lunch with the class president last summer. We have known each other since elementary school and a shared a religion which both of us have since abandoned.
A group of friends hung out together in college. We worked on the student newspaper, double-dated together. One of those friends, Barbara, has been around Richmond and we occasionally run into each other. Two found me on Facebook, Mary lives in Richmond and Diane is in Pennsylvania.
After college, I moved to a small college town to work on the local newspaper. I met two other guys my age, Jim and Steve. They were teachers and I was a reporter. We became such close friends that we referred to ourselves as the Three Musketeers. I was both of their weddings. We have lost touch over the years.
In the last 25 years, I have developed one friend, Marc, who has been there with me through the death of my parents, several surgeries, job changes, and multiple moves.
Recently, friends came to the rescue.
On an August Monday, a friend Brian and I went out for afternoon coffee. I am his sponsor in a recovery program. It was one of the few clear sunny but not too hot days this summer without rain. We sat in the sidewalk seating area outside the cafe, talking and sharing.
I mentioned my meager income status and how my car, a reliable friend, was aging and I had no idea how to replace it.
We left the café. I was driving him back to his place. We stopped at a red light at a large intersection. The light turned green and I proceeded forward.
A black car plowed into the front passenger fender wheel area of my car.
We are being pushed toward a green post on the far left corner of the intersection. If that pole comes down, it will crush us, I thought.
We came to an abrupt stop. My bottom lip is split open, dripping blood down my clothes. My passenger friend is moaning.
Two women come to the car. “Don’t move,” they said. “We called the police and ambulance.”
With bleeding mouth, I was able to call best friend Marc.
Within minutes, police and rescue arrived. I walked to an ambulance that took me to one hospital. I assumed my friend was going to another hospital where he has special coverage.
That hospital couldn’t take any more ambulances so he called another recovering friend, Rob, who lives about a mile away and had just gotten home from work.
Rob had been on a restricted license and a vehicle monitoring device which has just been removed two days earlier. He was now free to take the injured friend to the hospital.
He and a third recovering friend, Gerald, then rushed across town to visit me in another hospital in time to watch the physician’s assistant sew up my split lip. “Could you sew both lips together?” quipped one such friend!
Long-time friend Marc was there. He took me home and lent me one of his vehicles.
Injured passenger friend Brian went into surgery two days later to implant steel rods in his lower left leg. He will need long-term recovery and rehabilitation services.
He will need friends and support around him as he approaches his first sobriety anniversary.
We will be there for him.
(P.S. Best friend car did not survive!)