My best friend Amy and I are celebrating our 40th best friend anniversary this year. We met back in 1974 on the first day of school at Byrd Jr. High in Sun Valley and regardless of where our life’s journeys have taken us, we’ve remained best friends. Considering how differently our paths have gone, that is really remarkable.
Thinking back over the years, I can’t say that Amy and I had to “work” at maintaining our relationship; for us it was pretty easy. We love being together, laughing together, reminiscing together. But let’s face it – not all relationships are that easy.
As people and circumstances change, relationships can falter and sometimes, sadly, fail. I’m reminded of the saying that begins, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” I’m sure all of us can reflect on people who we thought were in our life for the long haul, but ended up only being there for a finite amount of time. If we’re lucky, we can identify what their “purpose” was; often we’re left wondering.
Family dynamics change constantly throughout the years. Two people I know recently lost elderly parents. One is heartbroken; though she knew dad wasn’t doing well and has faith that he’s in “a better place,” she feels her loss keenly.
The other is grappling with the death. Obviously there are some hurt feelings that weren’t resolved but the truth is that they probably wouldn’t ever be, even if the parent lived to be 500 years old.
Parental relationships are so tricky, too, aren’t they? To use my own example, I discovered at the ripe old age of 46 that I had a half brother from an earlier marriage of my father’s. Problem was that neither my sister nor I knew of any previous marriage(s). As my father died way back in 1977 and my mother in 1996, there was no one to ask questions of, no one to be angry with that this member of our family was never shared. Crazy making, as a friend of mine would say.
The parental relationship changes too as roles reverse. Whereas parents took care of us as children, we now, in many cases, are tasked with taking care of them, making sure they eat, get to doctors’ appointments or get out and socialize. As adults, most of us don’t have the luxury of being a full time caregiver to anyone beyond our own children (for those who have youngsters). Consequently, we give what time we have but, unfortunately, it may not be enough, leaving our parent angry and hurt while often coping with physical deterioration. It’s not easy for anyone.
For me, I am surprised how quickly and fiercely feelings arise from changed relationships. I think I have it under control when wham! An overwhelming sadness or anger washes over me. Of late, I’ve come up with three words to help conquer these feelings: Look For Love. Because in most cases the hurt and loss are the result of a relationship that was founded on love. And while it might sound trite, those three words – Look For Love – have actually helped shepherd me past an ugly place.
While I may not be any happier that the relationship changed, I can at least acknowledge that there was something good within it and maybe, just maybe, I am a better person because of it.