Old Friends

I miss all of my old friends who have passed away. Sometimes you just don’t understand why they were taken so soon. I loved and miss Johnny Cash. I miss my old buddy Johnny Paycheck, who happens to be buried in an area of the cemetery that I bought for my family. – George Jones

Nothing is more painful than being hurt or disappointed by those we love and care for.  Nothing can be more devastating than losing a friend over something that may be considered petty or stupid.  And nothing can compare to the loss of a loved one or friend.  There is a different kind of pain felt when we lose contact with our old friends, people who during our last conversation everything ended on a positive note.

These old friends are still here with us in the here and now, but things like life, work, family, school, whatever, sometimes cause us to lose touch with one another.  It could be that it is our fault or we could blame them for losing touch. We remember those good and bad times, often memories triggered by something we see, hear, or are doing.  We are humans and social relationships and interactions are important and healthy.  From the life of the part extrovert who has the large network of friends to the quiet introvert who has one or two good friends, these types of relationships are critical to our mental and emotional well-being.  And sometimes, the difference between having a bad day and a good day could be having a good conversation with our friends.

I can remember going to my neighborhood supermarket and seeing one of my old friends who I have not seen in ages.  It seems like a commonplace occurrence to run into someone from your younger years when you’re driving around your hometown. However, to me it was not. We spoke for about six minutes and it was like we had been talking every day, when in reality we had not spoken in a few years.  We spoke about how his family was, our work, and just life in general.  It was a very surreal moment and one I remember very vividly.  I walked away with a warm feeling and was very happy to run into to him, reminded of the power of fate and magic of friendship.  But as I was walking away and thinking about all the times in elementary, middle, high school and beyond we had shared together, I glanced back and saw him walking away, a hint of nostalgia and sadness washed over me.  Going to the checkout line I even found myself looking around hoping I would see my old friend again just so I could wish them well one more time, because while we may say, “let’s go have a beer” or “we need to get together sometime,” it is easier said than done.  I knew in the back of my mind I would not see him again unless in passing again.  It was a bittersweet night during the drive back home.

That was one vivid encounter I recall when it comes to seeing old friends around my medium-sized hometown.  But as far as good times spent at home, there is nothing like sitting down with my grandfather who is in his 80s and listen to him recall the past and his old friends from his days growing up in north Florida and while in the Navy.  You can feel the passion in his voice as he talks about the good, bad, and crazy times they all had together growing up, though I also see that hint of sadness in his eyes and in his voice as he gets done talking about them.  That regret that he has outlived most of his old friends and will never see them again in this plane of existence.  The old saying goes, “time heals all” is true, but time reminds of us how little of it we really have in our day-to-day existence.  Time and our memories remind us of those good times with our old friends and the laughs we shared, the drunken conversations, the fights, or even the times we were there for them in their darkest hour.  Seeing that old man there in his chair recalling his old friends who had departed and then watching him look away, perhaps fighting back tears, is a sobering reminder to try and keep those relationships alive and keep in touch.

Life happens:

For a visual on how our relationships with people come and go with time, I would encourage you to watch the music video “Midnight on the Interstate” by folk band Trample by Turtles, the ballad of harmony and melody of banjos and guitars you see the connection we make with people in our lives, those we love, those we lose, and those that take separate paths (URL to the video at the bottom). All of this is depicted with simple animation and bright yarn, signifying the connection to the heart our friends and loved ones have to us.  The music reminds us that life happens and people’s paths in life crisscross, twist and turn, and go apart at times.  But no matter what as my grandfather reminded me, when we would share our experiences of our old friends, relationships are a two-way street.  Much like a relationship with our significant other, family, or friends it takes effort from both sides to keep that relationship alive.  If only one person tries and tries only to find disappointment, anger, anxiety, or depression then they need to stop.  You are running your head into a proverbial brick wall and are killing yourself mentally and emotionally.  Once you stop trying to reach out to your old friends you will find one of two things will happen, they will either come to you or they will go away, and unfortunately no matter how hard you try it is not worth the pain. And this is how life happens.

Bonds forged through iron, blood, and tears:

Allowing ourselves to sink into sadness or depression because of a jaded relationship we have with an old friend is not only painful, but is disgusting in my opinion.  Our self-worth is a million times more valuable than dwelling on the past. Asking ourselves, “what did I do wrong?” or “why don’t we hangout anymore?” and all those questions point to the emotional vulnerabilities of our head and our hearts.  These types of thoughts and feelings are the enemy and can lead to crippling depression, with thoughts of loneliness, anger, resentment, sadness, and even escalate to loss of self-esteem, hope and faith and even suicide in some cases.  And being in conflict zones and forging friendships with people who I have seen shed blood, carry iron and shared tears with on a daily basis sometimes is something you may think lasts a lifetime.  Unfortunately, I have lost some old friends either due to life happening or having them pass away and it sucks.

We all have had that old friend who has cried, hurt, and been there for us in our hour of need.  And to have them taken away from us because of situations we cannot control is extremely painful.  But it is that stuff we can control, reaching out to them by calling them, texting them, or on social media, we give ourselves the satisfaction of knowing we have tried to re-establish that line of communication.  We are sharing with that old friend that prized possession, which is our heart and that is a treasure worth a million uncut diamonds.

In closing, take the time to reach out to that old friend and check up on them.  Re-establish those old connections with those people who matter to you. But if you have done everything possible to reach out to your old friends, keep in the back of your mind that you have done your part.  Do not beat yourself up over connections that cannot be rekindled or restored. Focus your mind and think of the good memories. And just when you least expect it, your old friends may just come around and reach out.

Credits:

“Midnight on the Interstate” by Trample by Turtles – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_6M_6KStEw

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