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Sharing a lesson on losing a friend

Mom, son learn to cherish memories as life moves on and relationships change.

<i>Editor’s note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne. </i><br>

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 who 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 “goodbye.”

“You know that’s impossible,” my mom told me years ago during one of our mother-daughter talks. “Goodbyes 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 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 benefited. 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.

<br><i> 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. </i>

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