What a friend is…

Maybe you have 1,752 Facebook friends and 2,162 followers on Twitter, and you like them ALL, ALL (okay, except a few). But  you engage with them all. Because they are fine people and they are there when you feel the sudden urge  to “talk” to someone at 2 am, or  when you want someone to pay attention to you for no particularly good reason other than having attention paid, or perhaps when you need to know where to get a good sandwich in Toledo, or whatever…

But then someone you really love dies.  Someone you should have called more often. Someone you should have gone to visit. Someone who isn’t just  someone.  They die suddenly, without warning. And you feel terrible.  And lost. You feel like if you’d known this was coming… you’d have made different choices, been a better friend.

And you have to admit, if you are being honest, that you feel sorry for yourself that you didn’t see them more the last ten years.  Because they were a huge force of nature, an amazing person and a brilliant mind and a wide sky of laughing and humor. They were irreplaceable, larger than life. They really were.

But mostly you feel sorry for not having made the time, the effort. Because you’re pretty sure  you let them down. You feel badly.

So you try to rationalize. You argue with yourself that you’re busy. You have kids and work and there’s only so much money and you can’t be there for everybody.

But then you call triple bullshit on yourself.  Because that’s exactly what you are, in a way. There for everybody. And knowing this, you find yourself deeply aware of the economy of time, of care, of attention.  Aware of the choices you’ve made.

Love might be endless, infinite.  You can love in a boundless way. You can love 2, 162 people.  But you can’t care for 2,162 people.  attend to them all.  Attention is not infinite.  There are only so many hours.

In terms of time.  In terms of weeks-off-per-year.  Hours free to chat.  Emotional/mental focus… perhaps it is possible to have too many friends.

I miss my friend. I miss Bob.  I miss him terribly tonight.  I should have gone to Oregon this year.  Or last year.  Or the year before.  I should have called.  I loved him, but I didn’t attend.

I want to learn from this, tonight.  I hope I can.

(And I want to add that this is not intended as a rant against Facebook or Twitter. I don’t mean to set this up that way.  I love the big wide buzzing world I live in online. I just need to do a better job of making space for what matters.  Why must we forever learn the same lessons over and over? Only slightly different and more complicated each time?)

14 Responses to “What a friend is…”

  1. Webb Says:

    Laurel, I’m so sorry.

  2. Janet Says:

    Laurel, I’m so sorry. This is a good reminder to folks like me who do love lots of people but need to refocus now and again on the really close friends and family. I’m sorry about your friend; I’ll be thinking of you.

  3. Round-up: Drunk Hulk revealed, Loretta, Laurel, etc. « We Who Are About To Die Says:

    [...] What a friend is. [...]

  4. dava Says:

    I hope it feels better soon.

  5. Kaethe Says:

    Laurel, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I just need to do a better job of making space for what matters.

    So do we all.

  6. Jo Treggiari Says:

    So sorry for you Laurel. I lost my best friend unexpectedly as well. The good thing is it has made me value my friends and family even more. A close connection with someone is precious. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently partly because I just read another YA where the female bff is almost a throwaway, and also because I just moved to a new town where I know no one.
    Hold your loved ones closer.

  7. Rie Sheridan Rose Says:

    I am sorry for your loss, Laurel. I have been through the same thing. Thank you for reminding us again.

  8. Kelly Says:

    Laurel, so sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing so beautifully a reminder to those of us who fall into the same trap of spending too much time feeling like there is just not enough time to attend to all we love and hold dear. And for making us want to do better.

  9. kelly pardekooper Says:

    Ahhh sweetie…sorry this is a sad time for you. Just finished a year of watching death come slowly to a loved one and i’m guessing fast and out of the blue is worse with the feeling of not having enough time to say what needs said. The online world makes me feel spread too thin often…I’m amazed how connected you are while being creative and a mama too! Yer in my thoughts.

  10. Heather Kephart Says:

    Laurel, I am so sorry for your loss. I would implore you to stop punishing yourself. You learned and next time you will do better. Trust me, you are far from being alone. Most of us have recently had our brains re-wired to crave multiple stimuli. It’s like we’re addicted to distraction and anxiety! I’m sure things will change soon. We will all figure out how to enjoy the benefits of social networking, and re-learn how to relax and engage through slower, more thoughtful communications and intimacies.

  11. Marcia Says:

    Dear Laurel,
    My heart goes out to you as you deal with your loss. It’s so difficult to lose someone that you cared about and loved so very much. Be gentle with yourself, and know that Bob knew how much you loved him. It’s so difficult to stay in constant touch with all of our friends and family members. It almost makes one want to limit their social circles, so that they can focus on those intimate relationships that matter the most. Thank you for sharing a big part of yourself.

  12. Claudia Osmond Says:

    So sorry to read about your loss. I hope you can give yourself the gift of enjoying the memories you have of the times you did spend together. The memories of the things that made you such dear friends. Neither time nor distance changes any of that. *hugs*

  13. laurel Says:

    Thank you, everyone.

  14. Madigan Says:

    Everyone grieves differently. I lost a dear friend to cancer earlier this month, and have found the support of my diaspora of friends accessible to me through Twitter, Facebook, and other online venues, to be invaluable.

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