I have a group of people I’ve been friends with for over 25 years. We met in 1986 when I was 13 and my family decided to move to a new area of town. Before that time, I had lived in a large neighborhood with lots of kids my age. I remember being devastated when I found out we were moving out to “the country”. As my mom and dad drug me out to work on the house that spring, I thought, “What am I going to do out here? I’m not going to have any friends to play with!” When we first started building our house, the house next to ours was empty, but by mid-summer a new family had moved in. They had two kids, a girl a year younger than me and a boy 3 ½ years younger than me.
I was outside playing in a huge pile of sand which my dad had already told me several times to stay out of. (I didn’t listen very well.) The younger of my new neighbors came over and introduced himself to me in a way only kids seem to have the ability to do. He just told me his name and asked if I wanted to come over to play. I jumped at the chance! He introduced me to his sister and the rest, as they say, is history.
We all became fast friends. They had a large family with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins and I was soon friends with all of them as well. They were my second family through my teenage years. I spent as much time at their house as I did at mine and vice versa. One of us was always going to spend the night at the other one’s house every weekend and holiday break. Our parents just adopted the others as their own.
There have been a lot of changes that have taken place over the years. We don’t see each other as much as we used to, but the friendships have lasted. We have celebrated each other’s graduations, marriages and births of children. We have pulled close during deaths of grandparents, losses of children and rocky marriages. We may drift, but we’ve always been there for one another when it really mattered.
There have been a couple of occurrences in the past few years, however, that made me realize I have become extremely complacent in my long-term friendships. We tend to get caught up in the everyday things of life and stop making time for the people who matter most. We take people for granted and assume they know how we feel about them. I’ve come to realize that if you don’t keep telling people you love them and showing people you love them, the ties begin to weaken. The bonds are still there, but they don’t have the vitality they once had.
I have also come to realize how important my friendships are to me. It is a rare and precious thing to have 27 year friendships and they need to be well taken care of. So I have made a vow to try to be a better friend to the people I love. I am trying to touch base with them more often and tell them I love them more regularly and get together without a holiday or special occasion. I am trying to stop assuming they know I love them. It takes more than showing up for the celebrations and crises of life. You have to be willing to put it into words so they know you still care. You have to carve time out of your busy schedule to show you’re really invested in them. Friendships take work just like marriages. I’m definitely not a perfect friend, but I’m striving to be a better friend than I’ve ever been in the past. My friends are totally worth it.
So, do you have friendships you’ve let fall by the wayside? There was no big fight or falling out, you simply stopped keeping in touch. It’s never too late to revive and breathe life into a friendship. I encourage you to be the person who reaches out. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.