The Bonds of Friendship

An old friend, a friend with whom I’ve lost touch over the years, died last Friday.  I know nothing of the manner of his death, only that he died.  A message about his death, from a friend of a friend of someone else who knew him, suggests he was found dead in his kitchen, nothing more.  I found an obituary about his death, but it was only an announcement of plans for his funeral service, three days after Christmas.

I had tried to stay in touch with my friend, but over the years my messages to him began to go unanswered and my occasional letters got no replies.  Maybe it was simply time and distance, maybe a remark I made was misinterpreted in some way…I just don’t know.  Whatever the cause, we lost touch.

There are few people in one’s life whose presence really matter.   Parents and siblings, of course, matter.  One’s spouse and, I can only assume, one’s children matter.  Steadfast friends matter, though in my experience they are few and far between.   My friend was one of those who truly mattered in my life.  When I was coming of age, just before I left for college, he treated me like an adult.  He challenged me to think, deeply, about what motivated me and what motivates other people.  He helped broaden my world view and accept people who hold different perspectives than I.  We were as different as night and day, in some respects, but we were good friends for a long time.  I can say with absolute certainty that I would have dropped everything and traveled across the country if he asked for my help.

I stayed in touch with him for years after I went away to college, while he stayed in my hometown and taught at the local college.  After I got married, I introduced him to my wife and he introduced me to the people in his life.  After I moved to Chicago, I stayed in touch with him via letters and telephone calls.  But like too many other friendships, ours seemed to simply dissolve, perhaps time and distance and infrequent communications straining its chains.

Though I have long since lost touch with him, news of his death affected me.  I honor our friendship and I honor those who he leaves behind.  Through him, I came to like his sister and  her husband, though I have long since lost touch with them, as well.  But I will make a trip late this week to attend his funeral, to show them that his influence survived time and distance.

As I make that seven-hour drive, I will consider the bonds of friendship.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Death, Friendship, Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Bonds of Friendship

  1. druxha says:

    John, I hope that you find some resolve in that seven hour drive, or there after. Losing a person whom we admired and respect is never easy, and the years do not erase the feelings you have for that individual, to the contrary, can be amplified. Sorry for your loss, and hope that your journey is an enlightening one.

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