Many years ago, in a college psychology class, I participated in a group discussion regarding friendships: how we enter into a friendship, how we maintain it and how friendship fades away, despite the best of intentions. Although much time has passed, an observation that one of my classmates made has remained with me to this day. That there are essentially two types of friends: Friends of the Road and Friends of the Heart. What does that mean, exactly? Friends of the Road are those that we encounter along the way while being busy with life. A childhood neighbor, a classmate, a co-worker, a teammate or dorm-mate, these friendships are formed due to time, place and circumstance. At that moment, the friendship appears to be unstoppable, an unbreakable link formed from a common bond that you promise will last forever. But once you change jobs, move away or graduate from school, the friendship, despite your most ardent efforts to keep in touch, fades into fond memories and Facebook reminders.
Ah, but Friends of the Heart. Those people you meet along the way whose paths are forever intertwined with your own. They are not your family, but these are the friends you can turn to in a moment’s notice, in joy and in sorrow, in illness or trouble. They are your people. Your back door friends. The “I-don’t-have-to-clean-up-the-house-because-I-am-having-company” kind of friends. Because they see you, know you and love you just the way you are. I have been so very blessed, in my life, to have found a group of friends of the heart. We started out as neighbors, bonded by our children who shared classrooms and ball fields. The dads coached, the moms cheered on, brought the water and snacks and patched up skinned knees. As we proudly watched our children grow and thrive, we stood side by side on the sidelines, in the bleachers and auditoriums and cheered them on, comforted their sorrows, rejoiced in their victories, agonized over their defeats. And while that business of life was happening, our friendships became those of the heart: strong, unstoppable, unbreakable bonds. And then, once our children were grown and happily on their own, our friendships did not waver, but instead, grew stronger. We traveled around the world together, planned birthday parties and weddings and showers together and spent many an evening over dinner and drinks just enjoying each other’s company. Recently, I lost one of my dearest friends of the heart after a much-too-short battle with pancreatic cancer. She was the youngest of our group, so much fun, full of life and eager to see whatever the world had to offer. Now, each passing day brings a fresh reminder of how very fragile and sometimes too short life can be on this earth. If I could tell her one more time, if I could show her one more way, if I could only have a few more precious moments with her, I would let her know again just how special and truly blessed I was to have her in my life. Now, if you are fortunate enough, like me, to have a friend of the heart, choose today to tell them you love them. It doesn’t need to be a holiday or special occasion. You don’t need chocolate or fancy flowers, greeting cards or expensive gifts. Just text them or tweet them or Facebook message them or call them or even send them a copy of this and tell them how much they mean to you. It may be weirdly out-of-character, feel funny or awkward, but do it anyway. Because you never know when it may be your final chance to let them know how you feel. And so, I would like to say to all of my dearest friends of the heart, I love you. You have enriched my life in immeasurable ways, and life will never be the same without all of you in it.
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