What’s happening to our friends?

In three weeks I will be two years into my ninth decade. For those who don’t want to work that out, it means I will be eighty-two years old. In keeping with the title I am concerned as to what is happening to our friends. Obviously, it is natural that many of our friends are of similar age so because of that, we find that too often now we hear of another friend passing away or others who have contracted some serious illness, and even more disturbing is hearing how many have moved into the dark and awful world of dementia.

I suppose it should not surprise us, but it doesn’t remove the sadness as each bit of news arrives. It just accentuates the brevity and fragility of life. Fortunately we are blessed to have some friends who are younger than us which helps to stop the circle of friends decreasing too quickly. However, even those younger are not immune to some insidious disease, as has already happened.

For twenty years I travelled with a colleague into Eastern Europe as we worked together for a Christian Mission. Today he can remember very little, if anything, about those twenty years. In fact, his wife indicates that he probably would not even know who I was now. He is four years younger than me. What a tragedy?  Regrettably, he is not alone. You can probably share similar stories.

Why am I saying all this? Because it recently struck me quite forcibly that I will never be able to speak again to those friends who have gone. Never will I be able to say “Remember when…” or “What a great time we had at…”  That opportunity has gone forever. Unfortunately, it is the same situation for those suffering with dementia. The mind no longer allows them to retrieve memories and revel in the past.

Sadly, we are unable to change the way things are. We can only show our love and support to those left behind, and those now responsible for caregiving.

So I urge you, consider your friendships. Value them. Appreciate them. Build them. Take care of them. Invest time into them. They are important. Meaningful friendships are invaluable. Protect them. Don’t cause yourself to have regrets when you look back. Take time to think about what your friends mean to you, and let them know they are special. Hold on to those who are precious – you won’t always have them around!  Today you have them, so make the most of it and enjoy their company, whatever form of connection you have to use. Remember this, family and friendships are absolutely critical because they often prove to be the thread which holds our garment of life together. Share your life and love with them. It will bring you endless and surprising dividends. You won’t regret it!