30 Days of Truth, Day 09 : Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
It’s a 2 for one special today as I try to catch up after running behind on the 30 Days of Truth series. 2 consecutive weeks now I haven’t really posted anything during my days off. I’ll try to be more consistent about that. Anyway, on to the next round, yes?
Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Growing up in a military family, and having many friends also with military parents, this one happened to me a great deal. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard to pick just one single person. I think this one is going to be divided into stages of life; I don’t know how to arrange it or make sense of it any other way.
The first big move in life I really remember was when Dad was transferred from Yakota Air Station in Tokyo to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama in 1986. I know I had friends on base, some of them even in my apartment building, but I don’t remember them. I don’t know if I missed them after the move. As Mom tells it, I was just excited to be moving somewhere where all the cartoons were in English.
The next move was a lot harder for me. We’d lived in the same house for 7 years; I’d had the same basic group of kids on all my classes, I’d played soccer for 6 years with the same group of other boys, and we’d made some good friends through the church we attended. After we moved to Patrick AFB in Melbourne, FL in 1993 I lost contact with several of my friends. There are times I still miss them a bit; Shawn, Robbie, Scott, Charlie, Chris, Curt, and Alex. I grew up with them, inasmuch as one does “grow up” before teenage-hood hits, and after the move it just faded. Long distance phone calls were expensive, and I hated writing letters.
When we moved back to Maxwell 3 years later, I tried harder to keep in contact with some of my better friends. I did okay at first; I had one of my good friends S come up to visit, and I’d sometimes get on the phone with J (yes, that J) for a bit. Even those eventually faded as new school, new friends, and new activities took over. In those pre-email, pre-AOL IM, pre-Facebook days it was just more difficult and time consuming to try to maintain old, long-distance friendships.
In 1999 I moved to Orlando for a year and tried to re-integrate S and J both into my life, but the hour of driving each way and my limited funds as a college student made that die off quickly, and I again lost touch. I moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 2000, Houston in 2002, and then back to Orlando in 2003. I was determined to try to track down J and S again. Despite all my efforts, I could not find J, so I went looking for S and tracked down his home phone. The day before I was going to call S, my mother called. S had suffered a brain aneurysm while on a date with his girlfriend and was pronounced DOA by the time the ambulance got him to the hospital. Mom gave me the details of the funeral service.
I saw S that one last time, laying in repose. He looked calm, almost serene, and the corner of his mouth still had that wrinkle I’d always known him to have; his laughter had made it permanent, even at 16. Now here he was, 24, and gone. Gone before I got to let him know I was sorry for not keeping in touch. Gone before I got to tell him I missed him, and that in my own way, I’d loved him, then and still.
Now I make an effort — albeit not always a good or strong one — to let the people who matter deeply to me, for whom I can and love and trust, that they are important, and special, and add meaning to my life. I’m not always perfect at it, and I still find myself drifting into the old patterns of ignoring distanced friends for days or weeks at a time. I’m trying to fix that.
I’ve let too many friends drift out of reach. I don’t want to lose any more.
Stay SINful, friends.