Cindy and I have known each other for almost twenty years. We met when I started working for a non-profit. She was the office manager. Our jobs led us to collaborate on several projects, and we quickly become good friends.
Cindy eventually decided to go back into the Army. She had separated some years earlier and wanted to return to her career as an RN in the military.
After I left the organization, we stayed in touch. It wasn’t an everyday thing, but social media made it easy to have some degree of regular contact.
As an ordained minister, I even got to officiate her daughter’s wedding a couple of years ago. They flew me out to Sedona, put me up in their Airbnb, and fed me well.
Whenever she came to town, she would always reach out and treat me to dinner. She even gifted me some cash during some lean times, no strings attached. She is that kind of friend.
Cindy recently retired as a colonel and is back in the area with her husband, Mike. She has texted me almost daily since returning.
This is a fantastic example of how I would define friendship.
I asked Cindy why she thought our friendship has endured time and distance.
“Both parties have to be willing to put in the effort,” she answered, “sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. And, I think acceptance of someone for who they are is key. Also, I find value in those ‘old’ friendships.”
All of us hope to have those “forever friends” to walk with us, don’t we? They are rare, though. This is especially true with me.
As I look back on my journey thus far, the relationships that stick — the kind marked by mutual effort and utter acceptance — are few and far between.
Most of my friendships burn brightly for a time, then fizzle out. The phone calls and meetups get less frequent. Then there’s the tell-tale text exchange:
“Man, it’s been too long. We really need to get together and catch up.”
“YES! Let’s make it happen.”
“What’s next week look like?”
“Let me see what I’ve got going on and we’ll set something up.”
“Sounds good. Let me know.”
And that’s the last of it.
I’ve come to understand that the Cindys, Daniels, Jills, Waynes, and Carmens of the world don’t come along very often, at least when it comes to friendships. These are the ones you cherish.
When you feel as though you are just a social afterthought for most of the people around you, these gems of humanity never fail to remind you that although you’re alone, you’re never alone.