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LIFE ... WITHOUT BUMPER PADS

Mom, son share lesson in cherishing the memories of friends

Monday, March 25, 2013 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.

Back in my Girl Scout days, we sang a song about friendship: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

I instantly loved everything about the tune, from the catchy groove to the underlying sentiment. What a wonderful idea to move through life holding on to every friend I had ever made!

But as I grew up, I came to know another adage, one I was much less fond of: “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”

Sure, I like the sentiment of an improved heart — but I was never a big fan of someone coming into my life that would ultimately just go. Perhaps it was the fact my family moved around a bit when I was a kid, forcing me to accrue new friends while my “old” friends went about the routine I had left behind. Or, maybe it was my father's passing that cemented my distaste for impending departures.

But as I grew into adulthood, I found myself repeating the habit of avoiding “good-bye.”

“You know that's impossible,” my mom told me years ago during one of our mother-daughter talks. “Good-byes are inevitable. You have to learn to let go.”

“But it makes no sense to me,” I responded. “If someone comes into your life and you care about them and vice versa, why does there have to be separation?”

My mother laughed a kind chuckle that exuded wisdom.

“Life,” she said simply.

Her words stayed somewhere in the back of my mind for years. And then one day, I was forced to put her theory into practice.

Inexplicably, a friend exited my life. There was never a conversation or explanation. Just — poof! Gone. We had instantly shifted from great friends to … nothing. The experience left me reeling, and I decided to go back to the one person who would understand — my mom.

“Ouch,” she said when I told her my tale. “That's really tough.”

I nodded my agreement and sipped on my coffee dolefully. She mirrored my actions, and then reached her hand across to my own.

“I wish I could tell you the reason,” she said sympathetically. “But I wouldn't presume to know. What I can tell you is that I believe every person comes into our lives for a reason. Instead of focusing on the departure, consider all the good that came out of having a great friend.”

Her words soothed me, but I knew it would still take time for the emotional wound to heal. Still, I chose to take her advice, and focus every day on the lessons, laughter and lasting goodness of my friend's former presence in my life. Ultimately, the memories made me smile, and I decided I couldn't ask for much more.

A few weeks later, I picked my oldest son up from school, and immediately noticed his somber demeanor.

“What's going on?” I asked him.

He let out a deep sigh as he gazed out the window.

“I just really miss my best friend,” he said quietly.

I could almost feel my little boy's sadness. He and his favorite buddy now went to two different schools, and the transition had been hard on my son. I knew exactly what he was going through.

But as I thought about the boys' friendship, I could immediately see how my son had benefitted. His friend had brought him out of his shell, shown him the ropes at school and ushered him on countless adventures. I decided to remind my son of all of those great memories.

“I guess you're right,” he said with a slow grin.

“Absolutely!” I told him. “Those memories are yours forever. And just think of all the new adventures you'll have with your other friends — some you haven't even met yet!”

He nodded with new optimism, and I smiled. I decided the advice I had given my son might just apply to me as well.

This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. Jill Adams blogs at http://lifewithoutbumperpads.blogspot.com.