Friendships often develop in the most unlikely situations; when you least expect them, and they can end in the same fashion, abruptly, and without rhyme or reason. There’s a wonderful poem I read years ago that I’ve never forgotten, called “A Reason, Season or a Lifetime”, by an unknown author. It explains in simple terms what I believe is the basis for any friendship.
Friends come into your life at a time when you need them, A Reason. They are there to help you through a specific time or trial in your life and when that need has been satisfied the friendship ends, often without warning, no wrong doing – it has simply run its’ course; your need has been met.
Friends might come in to your life for a specific period; your high school or university days, or that one summer at camp, or that orderly you felt a bond with when you went to visit an elderly parent in the home. The friends who come into your life for A Season are there to help you through a specific period in your life. They are there to ease a burden, teach a lesson, or just provide loving support. Their time with you lasts the season, and only the season, and you part without hard feelings, both richer for the experience.
The friend that comes into your life for A Lifetime does so because you have both chosen to walk the same path. The lessons you are meant to learn are shared and you can support each other through them. They celebrate your joys, suffer your losses, love unconditionally, and forgive without judgement. You may part ways at times throughout your life, but your paths will always come back to meet, and the absences will have no effect on the relationship – you pick up where you left off – it’s like you were never apart.
Many friendships even appear unlikely; those with a substantial disparity in ages, genders, life circumstances, yet despite the differences you feel a connection, a kinship. This person was meant to be in your life and I truly believe that every encounter in our lives, no matter how inconsequential, is important. We are meant to ‘experience’ those we meet, and it is our mission to participate in the encounter fully, whether that be to teach someone else something, or to be the student ourselves.
Two years ago I suffered a tremendous loss, a tragedy in my life that left me struggling emotionally, and while I was grateful to have had family and friends providing love and support, I was unable to ease my heartache because I didn’t feel anyone could truly understand what I was going through. How could they?
For the past 17 years I’ve lived next door to a couple around the same age as my husband and I, and truth told, we had never really spoken. We waved when taking out our trash, or when shoveling snow, but we were simply neighbours, not friends – there was never any reason to take it any further than that. Around the same time I suffered my loss this same neighbour lost her husband, suddenly, after a very brief illness, and destiny brought our paths together.
We knew nothing about the other, but both recognized the familiar pain when we looked at each other, and over time (and tears) our stories came out. We acknowledged that the pain of loss is universal – every one suffers loss at some point in their lives, and she, like me, wasn’t able to get past it, despite the loving support of family and friends. (you just don’t know what it’s like until you go through it) We spent more and more time together. We talked through our pain, commiserated with each other, and through this process the healing finally began, as did the friendship.
Today, 2 years later, we are close friends and we occasionally marvel at the circumstances of our lives that brought us together. Had neither suffered the losses we did perhaps we never would’ve moved beyond that wave from across the road, and yet we did. We still feel the losses; I think you always do, but as the saying goes, What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and in this case it also made us very good friends. From something very awful came something very good.
When I reflect on the various friendships I’ve enjoyed over my lifetime, I find myself now searching for the purpose, or the lesson I was to glean from each, and there are many. And as the poem predicted, some friendships ended without cause or warning. Some faded in and out throughout my lifetime, and some tested the very theories of reason because there wasn’t any obvious need; at least we didn’t think so at the time, but at the end of the day every encounter was worthwhile.
Life is one loooooong lesson and everyone we meet along the path has something to teach us. The lesson might be hard, painful even, but on that same path there is a higher education, that of a life truly lived, and with it satisfaction and joy.
Accept that some friends need to leave you – take pleasure in the fact that you had them in your life at all. Cherish the friends you currently have, for as long as you will have them, and never miss the opportunity to make a new friend because there’s always room in the circle for more and they could be the one to change your life. At worst, they have the potential to enrich it, so how can you lose?