21 January 2009

Auld Lang Syne

So, there are not a whole lot of things I regret in my life. There is almost nothing I regret doing, and only slightly more I regret saying. I mostly live life figuring that risk and the possibility of failure and hurt are WAY better than a safe, but very boring existence.

As such, the regrets I do have are the things I didn't do. And one of my biggest regrets is the fact that I really, really suck and keeping in touch with people. It is not that I don't have good intentions (hello, road paving anyone?). I just either get distracted, or busy, or think, 'oh I will wait until I have a chunk of time to reply to this.' And it slips to the second page of my message book or my email box, and then it was so long ago, and on and on. Events nudged me every so often, trying gently to remind me that really, a 5 minute call or quick note now is better than waiting for that 'when you have time' thing. I would get better for a while, then slip back into my old ways.

And then this past fall, the nudges stop. I get a big karmic kick in the teeth. It is not my story, and I don't want to go on, but suffice to say I lost someone this year. The spouse of a close friend, and because, well, neither of us took the time, I did not even know she was sick until I got the message from my friend that his wife was gone. She had been battling cancer for three years. This time, I got the message.

And here is where the risk, and the failure and the hurt come in. Because I decided it may have been a while, or a LONG while, but I am going to write that note, or send an email, or pick up the phone. And sometimes that hurts, because the note gets tossed, the email unanswered, the call, always, seems to hit the voice mail. I know, folks move on, they forget, they do other things. But, despite being a smart alec, and irreverent, I break pretty easy. Okay, really easy. I think the one that hurt the most was the conversation that ended mid stream, with no explanation. That still stings, a month later.

But there are rewards too. The 3 hour phone call with the friend you really did think you had lost, but that had never actually been lost at all. The note you got from a dear friend, telling you how much you have meant to her, that brings tears to your eyes. The other connections you make, friends of friends of friends, and the happy memories they bring back.

So I will keep putting myself out there, I still have a list of folks, people I have not contacted in a long time, that I am thinking about what to say. I won't wait too long this time. I hope that we reconnect.

And I appreciate even more those that reach back, or never lost touch in the first place because they can put up with or overlook my erratic ways. Thank you.

And those voice mails? The notes and emails? That one conversation, stopped mid-stream? All I can say is, for me, friendship does not have an expiration date. A week, a year, 5 years? If you reach back, and I am where you can reach me, I will answer. And I will do it sooner this time. And know too, old friends, no matter what, you are never, ever forgotten.

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