I don’t use the term “friend” lightly. I enjoy my friendly acquaintances and valued associates. They drift in and out of my life as circumstances dictate. We interact to mutual benefit and enjoyment, and then we move on. Friendship is something deeper—a deliberate, ongoing connection of understanding, respect, trust and caring between equals that doesn’t diminish with temporary absence or distraction. It provides a safe emotional harbor in heavy seas; a solid piece of ground when everything turns to quicksand and a swift kick in the pants when ill-advised behavior warrants. Is it any wonder that my friend is a rare and valued treasure?
Friendships are never lost. “Lost” implies they’ve been misplaced, like a coffee cup set down in an instant of morning distraction to be searched for throughout the day and finally found at suppertime, on the shelf beneath the birdcage. In my experience, a friendship may be held in abeyance, put deliberately aside in a convenient drawer until circumstances allow it to resume, but it cannot be lost—only destroyed.
The most dramatic destruction—the one writers write about—is caused by betrayal. It may take the form of a bit of gossip, an unforgivable overstepping of boundaries, or an act of supreme selfishness, but whatever the cause, the result undermines respect and trust and causes an irreparable breach between friends.
More prosaic, but just as sure, is the insidious destruction of friendship brought about by deliberate neglect. One-sided relationships cannot survive. Understanding and caring thrive on communication. Respect and trust must be renewed through contact and interaction. Silence, unless agreed upon by both parties, results in a slow and agonizing death.
And so I ask my friend, whose time is precious, will our friendship endure and strengthen? Will we end in a barrage of harsh words? Or will our closeness just melt away like a scoop of ice cream dropped on the sandy beach, until there’s nothing left but a vague, sticky memory?
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