We’ve all experienced growing apart from some of our friends. Friends you may have gone to school with, or friends you met later in life. You just ended up taking different paths and lost touch. It happens. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking; sometimes it’s because life needed to teach you something from that friendship. A friendship that served a purpose, and not a lifetime. But when you have friends that you grow away from, it’s so special, beautiful, and something only the strongest friendships can survive. We’ve all heard it: some friends are in our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When I hit junior high, I met friends that I’d eventually grow away from, not apart from. I just didn’t know it yet. Because of my scars, I felt like a major outcast. I had a hard time making friends. Lots of kids were nice to me. No one bullied me to my face. But I wanted friends. Real friends.
In grade seven it all began. I started hanging out with a group of kids who were considered the outcasts. This is where I felt like I fit in. I felt loved, accepted and like I’d found my forever friends. I always felt, and still do feel, that these friends will always have my back. More on that in a minute.
We hung out together all throughout school up until graduation. Some of us ended up going to different high schools and this is where the growing away from each other started. Although at the time, it felt like we were just growing apart. We knew it was bound to happen.
I didn’t stay in touch with any of these friends after high school. It wasn’t until three years after graduating that I realized these friends, were lifelong friends. I had received a call from a friend from this group. I hadn’t talked to her in six years – we were just living different lives. But she was calling to tell me that a mutual friend of ours from school had passed away. His name was Alex. I was extremely close to Alex throughout junior high. The friend who had called me to tell me about his death, Andrea, did not know my number or where I lived. But she happened to remember my parents phone number which is how she found me. We were both so devastated over Alex’s death. Nobody got to say goodbye. He was so young. And the first in our group to pass away. We were in our early 20s – too young. Andrea and I talked a lot after this. We decided that our friendship was too important, life was too short and could be over in a second, so we made a vow to never let anything make us grow apart from each other again. Almost 13 years from that devastating call about Alex, she is my best friend. She is my confidant, my sister, my soul-friend. And we are very much in each other’s lives, even though our lives are so different. We are not growing away or apart from each other anymore.
Although Andrea and I talk practically every day and see each other as often as possible, there are more people in this group from school who I feel lucky enough to call lifelong friends. I don’t talk to them everyday, and sometimes I only see them once a year (if that), but thanks to social media we can stay caught up with each other’s lives. So how does that make them more than just acquaintances?
Again, it took the death of a friend we all knew and loved, and we all grew away from him before he died, to show me what the meaning of friends forever meant. Alex didn’t get a funeral. So all of his friends from junior high and high school got together one night in our home town, and we partied. We celebrated Alex’s life. We shared stories and memories. We shared tears and laughs. The next day, we all went our separate ways, back to our own lives.
But over the years it’s been obvious that we’ll be there for each other when needed. Although we may not get together for coffee dates or nights out anymore, when one of us is in need or hurting, we drop what we’re doing and go be with our forever friends. Some of us have lost a parent or husband over the years. And you can bet we were all there to support our grieving friend at the funeral. We’re also there for happier times; weddings, babies, college graduations. We’re there to support and show our love. Even though we aren’t actively in each other’s lives (social media doesn’t count). I feel so blessed to have this group of friends that I know I can call on if/when I need. I hold them all close to my heart, and I strive to make sure they know it, before it’s too late. So, my forever friends, you know you who are. I hope you know how much I love you. I’m always here for you. Always. If you didn’t know it before, I hope you know it now.
I feel like Alex’s death served a lot of purpose in our childhood friendships. His death reminded us how close we all were when we were kids. His death taught us the value of true friends. Today, October 25, 2017, Alex would have turned 35. I miss him every day and although he’s gone, I can still feel him. He knows how much he’s missed and loved. I hope he does anyway. I wish I was more apart of his life at the time of his death. So that he would have known before he died how much he was cared about.
Do you have forever friends that you grow away from, but love with all your heart? Tell them you love them, even if you aren’t in each other’s lives actively. Don’t wait until it’s too late.