That Guy Was My Friend, Part 2
After Jake’s death, his family and friends were left in shock. (Although… that last sentence could probably be filed under the category of “excruciatingly obvious.”) In the months that followed, I found myself grasping for lessons I could learn from all that had happened. It was my way of finding therapy.
That was when I had to face the truth. That was when I realized I hadn’t been completely honest with myself. Because, when I said “that guy was my friend”… well, that wasn’t quite the case anymore.
Yes, Jake had been my friend… years ago. But the truth was, we had drifted apart. In the year leading up to his death, I spoke to him maybe five or six times. When we talked, it felt just like the old days, and I never stopped referring to him as a friend. But, we were nowhere near as close as we had been.
It was only months before he died that I started seeing Jake out swing dancing again (that’s how we knew each other). I remember thinking how cool it was to catch up with him. But I never made much of an effort to renew the friendship that we used to have. That was the extent of our reconnect: we saw each other at the random swing dancing venue, and we hung out and we chatted.
I remember thinking: “Hey, I’m a guy. That’s how guys are. We lose touch with a friend for years at a time, but when we see each other again, we can pick up right where we left off, and everything is totally cool. That’s how guys are.”
So, I figured my friendship with Jake would pick back up on its own. I figured there wasn’t anything I needed to do. I’m sure he figured the same thing. “We’ll see each other more now. We’ll be friends again.”
Of course, that’s not how it turned out.
Yes, I had the chance to renew our friendship. But no, I didn’t feel the need. Well, I lost that chance. And this was the most painful lesson I learned through his death.
You may not have known Jake, but maybe you can still take something from his death: if there’s someone in your life you still care about, don’t just let them drift away. If you really do still care about them, make that effort and keep them a part of your life. Because you never know when you might lose them. And ironically enough, it may be difficult to realize just how much you care about someone until you lose them.
So, call up an old friend—or family member—whom you haven’t talked to in a long time. You might think they’ll always be there. But clearly, they won’t.
I feel like I still owe you a call, Jake. Wish I could make it up to you.
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