Watching friends come together after 50 years I remember thinking…how cool!  How they all met as strangers in their neighborhoods or school.


And I thought about how they all first met…was it awkward…tentative…or sweet?  (Which, when you stop to think about it, is the way most strangers meet).


I imagine, from this uncertain beginning, a relationship extends when strangers find they have a lot in common…when strangers become friends.


A friendship strengthened by their laughter…by sharing hopes and dreams…by holding on to one another as they ride through life’s extremes.


But life is unpredictable…how often does it surprise…astound…amaze…and after high school many of these friends departed…they went their separate ways.


I imagine they parted amid some sadness…yet happy with what they achieved…for they were able to give the gift of friendship…and the gift of friendship they received.


Then years slip by (perhaps 50) until they meet again…this meeting more familiar…more tenderhearted…it’s as if no time was lost between them…as if they never parted.


And I felt privileged to be observing one of life’s wonders…shared only among old friends…how friendship has no time limit…how its memory never ends.


How true friendships are never over…how true friends never say goodbye…how, even after 50 years, true friendships never die.


Yes…it’s a secret old friends understand that new friends will, one day, learn:

how friendship dwells within the heart…

waiting patiently to return.



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Of all the tales ever told…of all the stories ever penned…there is never one more beautiful than the evolution of a friend.


A little over a year ago on my morning walk…in the dark…under the stars…I noticed the same man passing me every day…down Main Street…in his car.


After noticing this daily pattern…this quirk of fate…this act of God…one day…at the moment our two paths crossed…we both began to nod.


After nodding to each other for a while…I imagine we both felt a little brave…as the next stage of our friendship became a smile and a wave.


A smile and a wave turned into a quick greeting, “Good morning.” He would say.  “Good morning.” I would answer just before he drove away.


Yesterday to my surprise and totally initiated by him…he stopped to introduce himself…His name’s Bob…of course I’m JIm.


This morning as he passed I watched our friendship breaking through.

“Good morning, Jim.” He said, “Have a good day.” 

“Good morning, Bob. You too.”


This might be the extent of our friendship…as each day on Earth we keep revolving…but then again…you never know…as you can see…

our friendship is evolving.


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I am lucky to have a varied group of friends…

some similar to one another…

some as different as night and day…

but when it comes to the friendships I have formed…

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


I have a friend whose favorite season is Summer…

and another who loves the Spring…

I have a friend who loves to dance…

and another who can’t dance but loves to sing


I have a friend I’ve known most of my life…

and another I’ve only recently met…

I have a friend who dislikes animals 

and another who surrounds herself with pets.


I have a friend who loves ice cream…

another friend who only eats cake

I have a friend who hates the sight of reptiles 

and another who loves to play with snakes.


I have a friends who is an artist…

another who isn’t but loves to draw

I have a friend who is a doctor 

and another who practices law….


I have a friend who loves the beach…she loves the weather when it’s hotter

I have a friend who loves the cold and won’t go near the water.


Yes…I consider myself lucky…

in the morning when the day begins

and in the evening when it ends

at the myriad of connotations 

when I say

I have a friend.

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She knew her friend was hurting…despite brave attempts to hide her pain…despite her efforts to be sunny…she couldn’t stop the rain.


But her friend saw through her sadness…she could see the suffering in her friend’s eyes…because once a friend becomes a friend…a friend’s sorrow is difficult to disguise.


When she saw how her friend was suffering…she began to suffer too….wanting desperately to help…unsure of what to do.


For no one…not even a friend knows when or how another friend’s pain and suffering will end…and so she thought…the best thing she could do…was simply…be her friend


So she offered her friend her friendship…offered to travel with her on this journey…no matter how long…how difficult…how rough….

and she could see by the smile in her friend’s eyes…

her friendship…was enough.

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Today was a different day for Deborah and I…let me now review…

We decided to attend a funeral of a person we never knew…


To understand our reasoning…why this is not as crazy as it appears…we must take you back in time a little…back 14 and 1/2 years.


That’s when our granddaughter Ava was born…we made a plan we couldn’t resist…we would purchase a charm bracelet that, one day, she will wear upon her wrist.


The idea is to add a charm each year…representing a time, a place…a scene…we keep the bracelet with us…until she turns sixteen.


We found a jeweler, her name is Kim, we liked the tattoos she had on her arm.

We told her the story of Ava’s bracelet and she said she’d be happy to attach the charm.  


The first charm turned out beautifully…Kim’s expertise as a jeweler was quite clear…so we decided to take Ava’s bracelet and new charm back to her each year.


Now every year around the same time…just as we did the year before…we show up with bracelet and charm in hand…in front of Kim at her jewelry store.


We talk about Ava and how quickly our children and grandchildren grow…then Deborah and Kim get together to decide where the charm should go.


In the 14 years we’ve been doing this…as one year into another blends…we ceased to be jeweler and customers…and along the way we became friends.


I find it difficult to explain…as the reasons are often unclear…how a friendship can form with someone we see only once or twice a year…


But isn’t that the thing about friends…the thing that gives friendship its flair…You don’t have to see them often…to know that they are there.


We stopped by to pick up a ring Kim was fixing for Deborah the other day…and her emotions…she was unable to hide…through tears she could not control she told us her only son had died.


We did not know her son…never met him in these 14 years…
but there is something about a friendship…when a friend cries you can feel her tears.


So that’s how we ended up in the back of a church…

sitting in the very last pew….

there to support a friend…

at the funeral…

of a person we never knew.

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We'd occasionally see him on our morning walks

that’s how our friendship grew.

Now, we smile and we stop to talk…when Big John comes into view.


We chat about our families, the weather…happy to pause for a minute or two.

Happy to spend some time together…as good friends often do.


Big John likes to tell stories and give advice…because that’s what old folks do

and he has earned that right…because Big John is 82.


Underneath his stories and his bad jokes (believe me he knows a few!)

he shares with us his experiences…his knowledge…

and a bit of wisdom too.


His best advice is to be kind and find joy in all we do

because, he says, when it comes to life…we’re all just passing through.


He says you want to leave behind good memories when you bid this world adieu…

Leave a smile on your friends and family’s faces …when you’re done passing through.


And this advice as stuck with us because as Big Joh is want to do….

He likes his own advice so much….he repeats it a time or two!


But I know for myself…and I’m pretty sure that goes for Deborah too

We always leave Big John with a smile when our visits with him are through.


It’s amazing how he has enhanced our lives

though we only see him for a moment or two…

as our lives occasionally intersect…

while we’re all just passing through.


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Have you ever wondered when a friendship forms? 

When is that one moment in time when random people come together…

and their worlds begin to rhyme?


Have you ever wondered if there are people out there walking…

perhaps just around the bend 

people…we don’t know yet…who were destined to be our friends?


People who walk separately into a room…and from the moment they arrive

feel in their hearts…and souls…they’ve known each other all their lives.


Do they sense it in their greeting?

Can they see friendship in their eyes?

Is it somewhere in their smile?

Can they feel their friendship rise?


They begin to share their stories…share their feelings…share their woes…

Is it in between their laughter or their tears…Is that where friendship grows?


Or am I giving it too much thought?   Is it possible to know 

when a friendship seed is planted…when it actually begins to grow.


I suppose it doesn’t matter what feelings initially bind them

for when it comes to friends in life…we are lucky just to find them.


Lucky knowing we have old friends…we’ve had since we were young

friends who we grew up with…friends we love to be among.


And lucky knowing we can make new friends…who, when added to the old,

make our life even more meaningful…make it a wonder to behold…


Perhaps that is the beauty of friendship…

what makes it so astonishing…and sweet..

knowing we have some old friends…

some new friends…

and some friends…we’ve yet to meet.

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They met on the beach as children…too young to comprehend

the difference in their colors…and they soon became two friends.


Two lives they happily shared…two lives easily aligned

They would remain two friends forever…their two hearts intertwined.


They came together often…they laughed and cried and played

So many moments they’ve lost count…so many memories they made.


When they graduated high school they began to drift apart

both knowing, despite the distance, they remained within their hearts.


They would meet periodically through the years…and through the miles.

remembering their youth together…sharing joys and tears and smiles.


On quiet moments when apart…innocently and unplanned

they would think about that day on the beach…when their camaraderie began.


They met one last time on that same beach under a clear cerulean sky.

This meeting not as joyous…they met to say goodbye.


One friend cried as the other’s ashes were spread across the dune

thinking he will miss his friend who was taken much too soon.


One friend remained on the beach alone…and whispered his other friends name

Thinking about the ashes we leave behind…and how all their colors are the same.


And remembering back to the moment they met…

and longing for the moment when…

two old friends, now separated,

will be two friends united again.

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It’s funny how someone can light up your life as they brighten your morning too.

It’s even funnier when it’s someone you never met…someone you never knew.


I never new this little old man…never knew his name

but I’d pass him every morning as our routines were the same.


As I reached his streetlight on my walk in the ebbing of the night

I would see him at his window Illuminated by his kitchen light.


In time a kind of friendship formed between us in the dwindling of the nights.

A nod turned into a smile and then a wave when we saw each other in the lights.


This was the extent of our friendship…It’s how our pieces fit

until the day, under his streetlight, I noticed his kitchen was unlit.


It remained unlit…and it was a week later when I finally tried

to check and see how he was doing…only to find out he had died.


I think about him when I pass his house

that he was my friend I have no doubt

but I never knew how much of a friend

or how much I’d miss him

until his light went out.



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