Monday, October 17, 2011

Hold On To Your Friends

I want to start off this post by saying that I have the greatest friends.

That's pretty much all I want to say. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

* * *

Actually, there's more that I want to stay. Don't go away just yet.

On Saturday, the girls and I drove out to Fitzroy Harbour to join friends for a dinner party. I was looking forward to this gathering for some time, because it's always good to be with these friends and to catch up, share some outstanding wine, eat some great food, and share some laughs.

It wasn't until we were all together—Astrid, Perry, Andy, Shirley, Sandy, and Rob—that we were able to remark with some surprise that we hadn't seen each other in more than two years. Time flies with amazing speed: while my friends hadn't changed much (okay, a little: Sandy and Rob had finally tied the knot; Astrid and Perry had lost weight and looked fantastic), we were only able to remark on the passing of time by noticing how much the kids had changed since we last got together.

Two years is way too long to let slip between getting together. Sure, life gets busy, but what is the point of enjoying life if you can't make the time to be with those you care about?

I told my friends that I missed them and that I never wanted to let such a long amount of time get between seeing them again. To press the point, I shared some sad news that I only learned of last week. And I now want to share it with you:

Last Wednesday, while I sat in the waiting area of L's gymnastic class, I ran into an old friend, Lucy, who I had known from the days when she and I worked at the bank. Those were great days, when I had made some good friends with co-workers. In the six years that I worked at the bank, many of those friends were as close as family. Lucy was one of those friends.

We reminisced about those days in the bank, talked about the people we knew and wondered what had become of them.

One of my best friends from the days at the bank was a guy named Phil. He was a laid-back, funny, caring, and hard-working fellow who called everyone "Bud." He said that whether he knew your name or not, he preferred to call you "Bud" because that way, he'd never make the mistake of calling anyone by the wrong name.

Phil and I spent almost as many ours together outside of bank hours than in them. Card games at his apartment, enjoying some quarts of beer at the restaurant across from the bank, a day at La Ronde in Montréal, a weekend during Homecoming in Kingston, at Queen's University (neither of us had gone to Queen's but I had a few friends who we went to visit).

When Lori and I went to Korea, I kept in touch with Phil. I sent him postcards and we exchanged e-mail messages. And when I returned to Canada and started looking for a job, Phil helped me get a job by simply going to his manager and telling him to hire me. I started work the very next day.

When I started work as a technical writer at Corel, Phil and I got together less and less. He started another job away from the bank and we lost touch altogether. It was only a couple of years ago, when another of my friends, Andrew—who didn't know before that Phil and I were buds—told me that he dealt with Phil through his company, and that when Phil discovered that Andrew knew me, he said to say hi. I told Andrew to give Phil my contact info and Andrew gave me Phil's. I contacted Phil once, but never heard back from him.

Last week, I told Lucy about my failure to contact Phil and added, "I'd really like to see him again. I feel bad about us losing contact and would love to re-establish our friendship."

Lucy's face dropped. "You haven't heard? Phil passed away last May."

My heart sunk. Apparently, Phil had cancer and had lost his short battle in the spring. I was shocked, speechless. I immediately looked up his obituary online, on my iPhone. And there he was. Poor Phil: gone at 42.

I've been thinking of Phil ever since Lucy broke the news. I deeply regret not making an extra effort in keeping in touch. In not seeing him again.

I love my friends. They are the greatest. And I need to make a better effort at reaching out to see them. The dinner party on Saturday night made me realize how much I missed my friends. I have other friends who I haven't seen in a long time, and I need to reach out to them. To let them know I haven't forgotten them and that I care.

Hold on to your friends. Keep them close. Because you never know what tomorrow brings.

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