In the late 1980s Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant had a hit song that stated:
It sounds corny but I have found that it could not be more true.
As I get older I find that I don’t have as many close friends as I used to. I have golf buddies and fantasy sports buddies, colleagues that are close, but the ones I feel closest to are the old friends. Those ties from years past can be the strongest.
The most traumatic time in my life was when I was 13, and I lost my mother to cancer. I have spoken about this often on this blog and on other venues, but here I have a different take, on the aftermath.
The loss of my mother left me devastated and I always look back at that as a dark time in my life, it changed everything.
In the last year of her life you could track her health and my grades on the same line. I went from being a straight-A student to ditching class because I hadn’t finished my project. The following spring I quit playing baseball for the first time in eight years.
A few years back, on the anniversary of my Mom’s death, I was speaking to my group at The Grove Men’s Bible study. I was bemoaning her loss and how my life had changed, and one of the men spoke up.
He said, “Your grades went into the tank, you quit sports, so substance abuse was probably next, right?” He was surprised when I said, “No.”
He is a retired police officer and had spend a great deal of time working with kids in juvenile hall. He said that better than 90 percent of their stories started just like mine; loss of a parent or loved one, bad grades, quitting things they loved; which led to alcohol, smoking, drugs; which led to criminal activity, then violent crimes; which always led to imprisonment or death.
He asked, “So how did you manage to avoid the tail end of that story?”
I answered with, “God’s grace.” And he followed with, “How did that manifest itself?”
I thought about it and answered, “I had people who loved me and weren’t going to let that happen. Particularly a good group of friends.”
I said, “I don’t know if they ever had an intervention meeting where they asked each other ‘what are we going to do about Brian?’ But each of them did their thing and kept me going, propped me up until I got my legs under me again.”
He asked if I was still friends with those people. I was thankful that I could say yes. Brad, Rob, Kristi, Andrea, Tonya, I am still in touch with all of them. I went to all of their weddings, and know the names of their kids. We have been spread out over the years, but when we meet up it is just like old times.
After I lost my mother I was pretty much a functioning zombie. I went around doing stuff, but was numb inside. I quit caring about everything I used to love, and became very apathetic about life.
They made sure I stayed involved and didn’t drop out of life. They showed me love when I needed it, whether I deserved it or not, as well as patience when I would resist. There were others who helped along the way, parents, teachers, etc., but this core group were the best.
I am forever in their debt. And there isn’t anything I would not do for them in a time of need. I can only hope to repay them for their kindness and loyalty.
John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I take that to heart.
As we move around in life those true friendships can be some of the only certainty we find. I’m glad I still have mine.