Friendship brings so much into our lives. True friendship, I mean. Life would be a desolated place without our friends. Many would argue that family comes first and I would agree, but many of us have either lived away from family or have families that are not supportive or caring. It’s a fact, not a judgement.
This new year has brought friendship front and center for me already. It has been expected, but it is still difficult. It began last year with the celebration of our 50 years of graduating from high school. I have become involved again with those girls I went to school with so long ago. It has been wonderful!!!
With all the excitement of the week of celebration, I got even closer to my best friend in school. For years we were inseparable, knew each others’ secrets, supported each other in our crises and laughed and cried when needed. We have kept in touch and have shared the ways our lives have changed in these past 50 years.
Since she lives in Panama and I’ve lived everywhere, it has not been easy, but we have managed. Her mother was originally from Curaçao and somehow I couldn’t get her to visit while I lived there. I now regret I didn’t try harder to convince her, but that is water under the bridge. Not important anymore, so I have to let go.
A few months after our fabulous week of celebration, she was diagnosed with advanced, inoperable cancer. There was talk of chemotherapy, talk of giving her quality of life, giving her more time. There were tears, but there were also laughs and a new closeness. We have been on our phones chatting away, sending funny messages, calling at all hours even during her chemo treatments.
I held up hope this could be beaten or at least it would give us time to have more moments together. I had planned to go see her for a week and do only what she wanted to do: out for lunch, car rides, ice-cream, beauty parlor visits, girl talk, reminiscing, just enjoying each other company.
This week, her doctor cancelled the chemotherapy when her body gave up and she was hospitalized. Now I am traveling to Panama on a different mission. I have no idea when I will be able to visit again since this will be a very hectic year for our family. So I am going to say goodbye to my dearest friend.
I am going to say goodbye now, when she still can enjoy my company and I can enjoy hers. Now that we still have the time to laugh and talk about our friendship. Now when we still can sit in silence at times because we both are fluent in that language. Now when we can both look at each other and smile, laugh or cry. Now when we can embrace and hug and kiss.
As I get ready for this visit, my heart cannot help but be hopeful. After all, I am only human. So against all that I’ve been told, against all that my mind says is true, there is a small voice that tells me: “Hope is the last thing we relinquish“. I know this is true, in my heart, where it counts. So I am taking this trip, for our friendship, for her and for me. May we be granted many more times together and then may it be as it must be.
Photo: Dreamtime Credit Commons Zero (CCO)