On friendship and saying goodbye

ON FRIENDSHIP and saying goodbye

When I was four I met a boy. He had a cheeky smile, a mischievous glint in his eye and the most genuine and welcoming heart. We became friends.

As the years passed, we remained friends. Through good times and some frankly awful times.

During our twenties we drifted apart; no fault, just busy lives in different cities. But if you’d asked me, his name would have always been right up there on my friends list.

He was a forever friend.

My adult life has been spent in several different cities. I have made friends, lost friends, re-found friends. Circumstance has often resulted in less than perfect attempts at keeping in touch, and a lot of guilt.

I am well aware of the transient nature of many friendships.

I have spent far too much time beating myself up over the loss of friendships that meant so much at a certain point in my life. But, not all friendships survive, and I’m not sure that all are meant to.

I do however place great value on those that endure, even when distance and time conspire to end them.

Those rock-solid friends that are, at all times, alive and present in our hearts and minds, even when we do not see them.

Those friends that you can go for months, or even years without speaking to, then sit down for a chat as if you saw them yesterday.

Good friends are like stars. You might not always see them, but you know they’re always there.
Old saying

If we have even a handful of those friends, we are very lucky.

Eventually my friend and I both returned to our home city (as so many of us do). We each found our happy ever afters and settled into the rest of our lives.

That cheeky smile and mischievous glint made a welcome return to my life.

And, we had all the time in the world. When life got busy, there was always next week. When chaos descended, there was always next time.

Then he got sick.

My friend was one of those people who could light up a room. Always smiling, always ready to laugh. He took everything life threw at him, and believe me it threw him some awful balls, and looked for the positive.

Found the good, found the reason.

And, when there was no reason? Well, he had faith.

I often envied him that certainty, that ability to see the good where, in all honesty, there was little to be seen.

He was a good man.

That four-year old boy with the generous and welcoming heart was still there. In that smile.

The first time he was ill we never doubted he would get better. Because he deserved to get better. He was the best of us, there was simply no way there wouldn’t be a happy ending.

And, we were right.

But then he got sick again.

Different disease, the worst one of all.

We were all equally positive, if rather more shaken inside that we would ever let on.

He would beat this too.

As years pass, we hold on to certain events, certain memories, certain friendships and as our lives take us in different directions, we remain drawn to certain places and people.

We have an expectation that they will always be there. We take them for granted.

We think we have all the time in the world.

But, sometimes we don’t.

Last week I had to say goodbye to my friend. I mean, how do you even do that? Say goodbye to someone that has been a part of your life for 37 years.

I struggled to find the right words in those last few weeks. Worried about saying the wrong thing. Held off sending the random thoughts that popped into my head.

I should have sent him more silly messages, more photos. I should have said more, told him more.

I should have been a better friend.

I thought I had all the time in the world.

I didn’t.

As I sit here, wrapped in my quiet grief, heart breaking for his family, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to say goodbye, to tell him how lucky I was to have known him and how much he would be missed.

I am angry that I had to.

But, I am grateful that I had the chance.

It seems that everywhere we look someone is reminding us that life is short. To grab opportunities, to make our time count, to find the joy in every day.

To take the leap. Not wait for tomorrow, or the best time or the right time. To live in the moment.

Laugh loudly, love deeply, live well.

They’re right.

I write this post in memory of my wonderful friend; the world is a smaller, sadder place without him, but so much brighter for having known him.

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49 thoughts on “On friendship and saying goodbye”

  1. Oh Sara, this has me tearing up.
    I’m am so so sorry for the passing of your friend, but so happy you have had the pleasure of such a beautiful friendship.

    1. Thank you Amanda, it’s terribly sad and incredibly unfair. I am very lucky to have had him in my life though. He really was one of the good ones x

    1. Thank you Jo, I am truly lucky to have had someone like him in my life. I am devastated for his family, however sad I am is a fraction of what they are going through at the moment x

  2. I’m so sorry to read this, Sara. My condolences to you. We know we don’t have all the time in the world, yet we believe that we do, not many of us can live every day to its fullest. Its always so very painful to lose people so young, and like you, I’ve been there are raged against it as well as grieved. I hope you can find peace in your fond memories and the goodbyes that you had xx

    1. Thank you Jocelyn. I agree, I don’t think that many of us can manage to see the best every day, but perhaps most days is enough.

  3. So sorry about your friend, Sara, this was so sad to read but the love for him stands out and though you feel you could have done more, he was obviously often in your thoughts and always in your heart. Keep thinking about that cheeky little boy that you once knew. Much love X

  4. Sara this is so beautifully written and very moving indeed. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. He was obviously a very special person who will be sorely missed. x x

  5. Oh Sara I am sending so much love. What a beautiful, heartfelt, incredible post. My thoughts are with you and your family right now. Sometimes we meet a star and they light up our lives forever no matter how distant they are. It sounds like he is one of these people. I am so sorry to hear this. xxxxxx

  6. I’m so sorry Sara, he sounds like such a good man and this post is a beautiful tribute to him. Please don’t beat yourself up about not being a ‘better friend’ – you did and said what you could at the time and I’m certain he knew how you felt about him. You’re right about seizing the moment though, making the most of life and being as happy as we can be. Lots of love xxx

  7. Oh Sara, I am so sorry to read this. I am crying for him, his family and for you. You were lucky to have such an amazing friend and he was lucky to have had you. Your beautiful words show just how much he meant to you. x

  8. Oh Sara I’m so so sorry, what utterly devastating news. I wish you were nearer and I could give you one of those big squeezy hugs. Not that a hug will make you feel any better I know. You’ve written such a beautiful post and this special person was very lucky to have you as a friend. It must be really tough so please shout if you fancy a natter, I’m always here. I know it’s not the same but sometimes it’s just good to chat even if it’s only over the interwebs. Lots of love xxx

  9. Hugs Sara. Disease is so cruel, and it takes the good people way too soon. It sounds like you had a great friendship, and I’m sure he appreciated it as you did.

  10. Oh hon I don’t know how I managed to miss this post, guess I’ve been wrapped up too tightly in my own sadness.

    You’ve written such a gorgeous, touching tribute, but my word how unfair that you’ve had to. Young people should not be dying and leaving behind small children. So heart breaking.

    Sending you lots of love, now I understand what you meant by having to get through November xxx

    1. Thank you Renee, it’s been a tough month or so, but don’t apologise – I’ve been wrapped up too. Slowly coming out of it and catching up. Love to you too x

  11. So sorry it’s taken me so long to comment. I read this when you first posted it and it completely knocked the wind out of my sails. So beautifully written, and so sad. It made me think about all the friendships I value that I simply don’t put enough effort into: I need to find a way to make the time to change that. Mostly though I am so very sorry you lost someone so close to you. He sounds like a wonderful person, and your words are such a wonderful testament to him. I hope you’re doing ok xx

  12. Oh Sara, I feel your sadness in every word of this beautiful post. I lost a university friend a while back – we had known each other for nearly 20 years but, with the best of intentions, we had drifted out of each other’s lives somewhat, exchanging Christmas cards and birthday messages but little more. I think we met up maybe 3 times in the last 6 years of his life. He was 37 when he died, six months younger than me, and left behind a wife and two kids.

    Seven years on, not a month goes by when he doesn’t pop into my thoughts. But all I have left are memories. And, like you, a little bit of guilt for not being a better friend. Life is too short.

    1. Thank you Tim. Life is too short and we shouldn’t be losing school/uni friends now, it’s too soon. And unfair. I’m sorry for your loss too, it does put things in perspective doesn’t it x

  13. I have to admit I have never lost a friend – not to death. The thought of losing a friend like that though – the ones who we count amongst the best we’ll ever have – it makes me feel all those things – so sad and angry that I would have taken for granted that there would always be time to re-connect. Some things can’t be predicted. It’s a lesson in living each day to the full I’d say. So sorry for your loss. X #thetruthabout

    1. Thank you Sam. We can’t predict what’s going to happen, but it is too easy to take people for granted. A hard lesson to learn x

  14. Hi Sara, I am sorry to hear about your friend. Those special, lifelong friendships are far and few between. I have a friend like that too, we grew up together and he lives in the UK with his family and I live in Greece. We rarely correspond (he is worse than me on FB!), but when we do see each other it’s like we’ve never been apart. It’s a special friendship and if something were to happen to him, I too would feel empty.

    Remember your friend fondly, he would have wanted that.


  15. I am so sorry you have lost your friend. True friends are rare and should be treasured. I am guilty of not always putting in the effort I should. Its not life but my health that makes me a bad friend at times, but I am lucky enough to have friends that understand. I am going to message them after I have finished commenting here and just let rhem know im thinking of them.
    Thank you for sharing this, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

    1. Thank you Tracey. It is hard to put in the effort sometimes, and I know that I am very guilty of not doing enough. Something like this puts things in perspective x

  16. Oh Sara, this is such a heartbreaking and poignant post! I am so sorry for your loss. You have written a beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend. And I will take heed the words in your post – Laugh loudly, love deeply, live well.

  17. You’ve written such a beautiful post about your friend. I have to admit I read this when you first posted and was so moved I couldn’t comment at the time. Last year I lost a friend I’d known since I was 3. I’m so grateful that I had time with her as she lived close by when we were in the US. I didn’t get the chance though to say goodbye which still hurts terribly. You’ve expressed so well here so much of what I felt and still feel. A huge hug from me xxx

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