Friends

The summer was wonderful and frustrating and difficult and sad. And as time kept moving on, I kept putting off writing a post just because of the sheer amount of stuff I felt like I had to update on. Of course, putting off writing is never the answer because stuff invariably continues to happen and it becomes a vicious cycle of not writing and piling more things on the “Must Mention” list, even though I technically don’t have to update anything.

But I have sat down and started writing and I try to combine all the events into one post and it just doesn’t work. Not only because of all that I could say, but because many of the things I want to share are discordant. They don’t belong together. Which, I suppose life can be discordant; in any one day I can feel happy, sad, annoyed, angry, joyous, etc. But some things deserve their own space. And so instead of pushing all the events of the last 4 months into one messy, emotional blog post, let me just start with one simple post about people.

This summer, two important people in my life passed away. One was my Aunt Susie. I have great memories of Aunt Susie. For a long time she lived with her family in the Seattle area and when we would go to visit, Aunt Susie would show us around, sharing all of her favorite food stops and taking us for rides on the ferry. She was an amazing cook and always made delicious and healthy meals. She was diagnosed with cancer and even through the trials of the progression of the disease, she remained incredibly kind and focused on service. I’m grateful for her and her example to me.

In early July, we learned one of my very good friends from high school died in a rock climbing accident. He was being safe; the equipment failed. I was shocked by this news and have had to sort through a flood of emotions, two of which, if you can believe it, we’re relief and gratitude.

You see, Evan moved to Alaska around the same time that we did this last year. He moved to Fairbanks (a 5-6 hour drive from Wasilla) to work on a doctorate degree. I knew Evan lived in Alaska and I kept having the thought to reach out to him, to see if he would want to get together sometime. However, though he and I were close in high school, it had been close to 7 years since I’d had any contact with him. I’d quickly push away any thought of reaching out with lame justifications. I was worried he’d think it was weird since it had been so long or that seeing him would be awkward since so much had changed since we last saw each other.

So I didn’t contact him.

But (a very redeeming word in this case) he contacted me.

In March I got a message from him saying he’d be near Wasilla that day and he asked if I’d want to meet up. We had dinner together at this outdated, tacky lounge and bar in town. He met my family. We talked about a lot and remembered a little. It really was wonderful just to see him. Life had brought us both down in ways, but I feel like we could relate in that we were working on it, fighting the good fight, for whatever it’s worth.

What a sweet blessing to rekindle a friendship, under any circumstances, but especially when the life of that friend ends only a few short months later.

When I heard of Evan’s passing, I was sad and confused. I kept wondering what I would have been feeling if we hadn’t seen each other that March, if he hadn’t reached out to me. I had been so stubborn about reaching out to him, even though I had felt the pull. I can’t imagine the grief and regret that would be haunting me if he hadn’t been the one, as if he knew and wanted to save me from a waterfall of guilt. But he did reach out. We did see each other. And for that I am grateful and relieved.

People are what matter in this life. Reach out. Rekindle. Love. Be like Evan. Don’t be like me.

When I attended Evan’s funeral, I saw so, so many people whom I hadn’t seen in years, though, 10 years ago, I would have listed them as some of the most important people to me. And here’s something I’ve learned: if someone was important to you, you were most likely important to them. Every one of these old friends met me with a hug and a smile. Though time had passed and life had changed, the reunions were joyous and wonderful and I look forward to seeing these people again, whenever that might be.

I’m really grateful for Evan. He was a kind, generous and adventurous friend. I have so many memories of him and I feel blessed that he was a part of my life. I’m grateful, beyond words, that he reached out to me. I’m grateful for what that action taught me. There are many people who have stepped into my life for a season or longer who probably don’t know how much they’ve meant to me.

I said it before: people are what matter. So I’m going to start now. To try to make sure my people know they matter to me.

 

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