Here’s a question that comes up a lot lately: Do you still hear from her/him? I used to think it was a badge of honor to say I’ve had the same friends forever, but just as all of my old clothes don’t fit anymore, neither do all the people I used to know. I still cherish friendships that have endured for decades, but not all the people I used to know are people I want to be with today. When we were younger, we clumped together for various reasons. We formed parent groups, church groups, hobby groups, business groups and volunteering-in-the-community groups.
Today I’m not so big on groups. One size doesn’t easily fit all. The friend who makes me laugh may not be the one with whom I want to discuss problems. Neither does one size fit forever. I now have a shorter list of friends and a more focused to-do list.
Recently my daughter asked, “Remember when we used to have those parties at our house and we’d have a hundred people there?” I wonder, where did I get all that energy? I look at photos and examine old memories and they point to the fact that indeed, fun was being had, yet it’s not a situation I’d be drawn to now.
Have you ever fallen out of touch with someone and then you reconnect and it’s just different? These days I let an extra beat go by before deciding to restore the relationship. A few sentences after “Hello again” we may no longer have anything to talk about.
Letting go of relationships doesn’t happen without guilt. I ask myself why don’t I want to be with these people? The answer’s right there, but I’m sometimes slow to accept it. History alone isn’t enough. Seasons change. Values change. People change.
My friend, Catherine approaches life in the most realistic way of anyone I know. She believes we need different kinds of relationships at different stages in life. Not only does she let go of the ones that don’t fit anymore, but she quickly replaces them with people who do.
A few months ago, she hosted a party to celebrate her 90th birthday. I’m one of her newer friends, considering we’ve only known each other about twenty years. I take her counsel to heart and try to be more aware of the natural ebb and flow, but there will never be another like Catherine. When I mention any age-related problem, she says, “Oh honey, you’ll work it out. You’re still just a baby.” Where would I find another friend who’ll take the trouble to lie to my face like that?
Ó By Anita Garner