There’s a saying about people being in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I’m not sure if I’m completely sold on that idea, but I do know there is a small handful of people who will be in my life forever, even if we only see each other once every few years. One of those people is my friend Sam (I’ve changed her name out of respect for her privacy). We met in high school on the bus to a soccer game. She was a sophomore, I was one of only three freshman on the team. While I can’t remember what we talked about that first day, I do remember that I knew right away we would be friends. She was funny and sweet, and she spoke her mind. My kind of person. Together we navigated the tumultuous teenage sea, had plenty of adventures and misadventures, and became die hard Monty Python fans.
Fast forward several years. Sam moved to North Carolina after college. We had remained friends, and I went down to visit her a few times. But then life happened. We kept in touch, but the time between phone calls stretched larger and larger, and I worried that she no longer considered me a friend. It was no one’s fault really, it happens to most of us. And now social media makes it easy to check the box of, “I posted on so and so’s wall for their birthday and commented on a picture of their kid – we’re caught up.” But there is something to be said about seeing a good friend in person. Giving them a hug. Seeing their space. Knowing that they will be in your life a little longer.
Sam’s brother lives in town, and last summer he told me that she was getting married. I knew I needed be there, no matter what. And I was. Plane tickets were too expensive, so I got in the car at 4am and drove twelve hours to see my friend. Totally worth it.
On the way down, I decided to take a quick detour to the 14th Quartermaster Detachment Memorial in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Part of my current project was inspired by an Army Reserve unit that suffered the greatest causalities during Desert Storm. I wanted to see the memorial, for research purposes, and also to pay my respects to the soldiers who were killed or injured. I want so much from my writing, and one of the things I hope to accomplish is to give a voice to untold stories, to remember the sacrifices of not only the men and women who fight, but also the family and friends who love them. Sam’s dad was deployed during Desert Storm, and while he survived the war, he did not survive the cancer that followed. We cannot forget that war does not end on the battlefield, especially now when battlefields are not clearly defined.
I didn’t make it to his funeral. Work, life… excuses… and it is something I deeply regret. I wasn’t there for my friend when I should have been. Maybe that’s why I needed to go down for her wedding. But it’s more than that. Friendship isn’t easy for me. I can be insensitive without meaning to, and I don’t like to be vulnerable (translation: you need a lot of explosives to knock down my walls). There are a handful of people in this world that I truly, deeply love. That will be my friends for a lifetime. Time passes, but that feeling doesn’t change. So I’m taking some time this week to try and reach out to people who have shaped me, changed me, loved me back despite my myriad of faults. And I encourage you, my beautiful readers, to do the same.
Because in the end, we need people who know us. Truly know us. Who will be there in tragedy and celebration. But we should also continue to expand our circle, to reach out to someone who may be lonely or hurting, to ask for help if we’re the ones lonely or hurting. Let’s travel on this road together.