The Friendship Tree

          The greatest Christmas gift I’ve ever received happened a month ago. My best friend of thirty-one years stepped off a plane and said, “It’s been too long.”

          Thirteen long years passed since we’d last said hello and squealed with delight. Seamlessly the years fell away. We’d been separated when my career moved me halfway around the world. We kept our friendship alive by talking for hours on the phone.

          Our friendship blossomed in the early 80’s, before e-mail and free long distance was a reality. It was a concerted effort to stay connected. Time zones were the least of our problems. I knew in my heart of hearts that my best friend would never leave me and I felt the same about her. Our meetings, wherever they occurred, were joyful.

          As I write Christmas cards this holiday season I realize the list is shorter with each passing year.  I’m saddened by the number of friends I’ve allowed to slip–from not just my Christmas list but from my life.

          I could blame the falling away of some friends on my career moving me about like a tumbleweed in the wind—but that was an aspect of my career that I loved.  It was my responsibility to stay in touch.

          I’ve discovered it’s not safe to assume a friend will always be with me.  Where do I start when I think I’ve located a friend from my past life? A friend I allowed to disappear against my better judgment. A friend I knew I would always want to know how they were, where they were, what they would be doing. Did they ever think about me too? Who have they become? What would they want me to know or would they want me to know anything?

          So many special friends have slipped through my fingers, without my even knowing they were leaving. I didn’t know I would never see or hear from them again. My heart aches. Often I’ve been the person leaving—how heartless of me. How could it have been so simple—or was it simple—to walk away as if there would always be someone just as special to take their place.

          Could a career that moves us about like so many loose leaves in an autumn wind causes us to become cavalier about friendship? Regardless, although we left, or they left, we never really let go. Can we place the leaves back on the friendship tree and watch it turn green again—bending with the wind but hold fast when the hurricane forces of life sweep past us?

          This holiday season I hope you are surrounded by friends—both old and new—and most importantly, by those you love at your side.

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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13 Responses to The Friendship Tree

  1. mihrank says:

    Reblogged this on mihran Kalaydjian and commented:
    The Friendship Tree

  2. Lynn Garrett says:

    Funny how the friends we never see again are stuck in time for us, probably idealized, definitely immune to age. But real friendship requires the accepting, even embracing, the effects “time and New England” (Barry Manilow) have on us. Once a friendship is strained, then forgiven, it’s bound with a stronger chord.

  3. I’ve recently become reacquainted with old high school friends. It makes us sad that we lost touch but we are now making up for it with daily emails and annual visits. Our friends are keepers of our history.

  4. Tammy says:

    Sheri, Lovely piece. It speaks to me about the difference between letting go and leaving. They are not the same, and learning that can be a painful lesson indeed. Your subject matter is one that touches all of us. Who among us have not allowed a good friend to slip away? Very few. The loss of a good friend is a loss of major proportions; for both of us. Life gets busy, worries encompass our attentions and family demands only increase. No excuse. Friends to us are like rain to flowers. We need them to grow. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed it very much.

  5. Bonnie Zimmerman says:

    Sheri – this piece touched me in a significant way, resting in my spirit for a day or so now. I hope I remember the responsibilities of friendship as often as I reap its rewards, because friendship is a gift to treasure and nurture. My best friend is talented, beautiful inside and out, intelligent, feminine, direct, honest and true. I have been blessed.

    • Bill Garrett says:

      Here! Here! Bonnie. I concur about your friend, because she is my friend also. I am also blessed that YOU are now my friend because of her. Wish you could have stayed forever.

      • Sheri de Grom says:

        Wouldn’t it be grand if we could see each ot her when we wanted? In the days of our youth distance and time didn’t seem so important–but, now–I’d like everyone close. We could have morning coffee and enjoy coversation – the way friends do.

    • Sheri de Grom says:

      Hi Bonnie – The hundreds of hours we’ve talked about friendship and what it takes to nuture that relationship comes back to me time and time again. It’s wonderful to have that special someone that will always be there, that knows the song in your heart when even you have forgotten the words and is willing to sing it back to you, and holds your hand when daylight seems so far away. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Hi Sheri! I bet this post will touch a chord with many of us. I used to have tons of friends but after I graduated high school, I let them all go whilst I attended college, went to Spain, transferred to a university down south and lived away from home. I reconnected with two of them after many, many years then found that after having two kids I allowed myself to become very isolated from anyone other than family. Is it too late? I really don’t know.

    • Sheri de Grom says:

      Thanks for stopping by Patti. I don’t think we ever know if it’s too late to reconnect with friends we’ve let slip away–that is, unless we don’t try. I think I have to try harder to stay connected in the first place. Happy Holidays.

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