I was visiting with a woman today who had just lost a good friend. Through her choked voice she said, "We had been praying for her to go home." But it is still so very hard. I have always liked the line, "Friends are the family we choose." There are so many instances when friends, whether it is men or women, become closer than brothers and sisters. We love family, but we would all admit sometimes we love through gritted teeth. With a friend the love is more apt to be genuine because we choose considering commonalities.
As I have lived in Glendive for almost 65 years, I have watched women whose children grew up together, who worked in the same office, church or volunteer organizations or who were drawn together because of a love of flowers or books. Those shared passions are what make the difference. Men hunt or fish together or have coffee groups some of which have met for many years.
From those interests, we often move into conversations and soon we are sharing each other's sorrows and sharing the joys as well. Our earliest beginnings are shaped by friendships. Friends come and go as life changes, but there are always those few who remain. When you see them there is a love that just reaches out and bypasses all our human failings.
To lose a friend is to lose shared memory and the voice on the phone that is always ready to hear what you have to say no matter how trivial. When death comes, family members are devastated, but there are also friends left behind who share the ache of the empty chair.
I remember one lady I really cared for who lived to be almost 100. She once told me with some disgust, "All my friends have left me." And my aunt who lived to be 100 said , "No one remembers what I remember." She was referring to those who were 80 and 90 years old.
One by one family and friends slip away from us until it is our turn. It is one of the most difficult parts of life, but knowing death is the end result perhaps makes us love all the more.