Most of my mother’s friends are either not married or are childless (not that it’s my business to know why). In fact, in her circle of friends, she seems to be the only one who’s “brave” enough to take on the challenge of being a mother (which I think I should be thankful for). As such – and as an only child – I have become accustomed to “hanging out” with people twice or thrice my age. I didn’t quite mind, really, as I feel that I have come to learn a few things about adulthood and the “real” life at an early age. They discussed politics and economy while I stared at them with a stuffed unicorn in my hand. We were at some fancy restaurant then.
Fast forward to two decades later, we’re dining at another fancy restaurant. But, here we are now – me as a fresh college graduate and they, retirees. The talk was still on politics and economy, among other things, at that dinner table; but this time, I was no longer merely staring at them. This time, I was part of the discussion. No more stuffed unicorns, only humble opinions.
In those two decades, they watched me grow up as I watched them grow old.
But, we never realized it.
I – we – didn’t realize how fast the years have passed us all by, how time has changed us, how much and how old we’ve all grown. But what is age, really? Age is just a concept to quantify time in our lives. It is merely a number that we associate with the color of our hair, with the smoothness of our skin, with the quality of our immune system and bodily functions, with how other people perceive us in society as we go farther in life. But, does it really matter if we’re 50, or 20, or 5? No, it doesn’t. What matters in life is not quantity, but quality. Age is just a number, and growing a year older doesn’t have to make us more miserable. Our age doesn’t have to define how we must live our lives. We are in control of our lives, so let’s take control. Growing (up or old) is about being wiser, living healthier, and staying happy and kind – something that’s better if reminded by and shared with people we love and who love us. Growing up or old doesn’t have to be a solitary journey.
I’ve seen that shared path in growth in many people, and I saw that in my mom’s friends that night we went for dinner. They’re now older, true, but as they gathered that night, they’re still as joyful and as enthusiastic as I once remembered them 17 years ago. Their faces still lit up with so much fervor as they share some funny story from the week past. They discussed the unrest in Syria with much interest, each having her own opinion to share while the others patiently and earnestly heard her out. They laughed heartily as they ate, and their felicity filled the air that evening, along with the aroma of good food. They may give the impression that they’re a group of worry-free ladies, but that is not entirely the case. Many, if not all, of them suffer from back pain. Others have diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions that inflict older people. But, such blues didn’t show. They drowned all their physical torment and emotional anguish in a network of positive vibes shared among good old friends – even for just that moment in time.
I watched them with a smile on my lips. And then, I wondered.
I wondered where I’ll be when I get to their age. I wondered whether my friends and I will be like them 30, 40 years from now. Will we still remember one another? Will we still give each other a call or drop each other a Facebook message just to ask how the other person is? Will we get together at some fancy restaurant too and drown our sorrows with a bottle of good red? Will we still toast to a friend’s success? Will we still take time to share the most trivial stories and to pose for wacky photos? Will we still have the energy to go on vacations with each other? Will we still be as vain and as carefree as we once were? Will we still laugh out loud at our stupid pranks as we reminisce? Will we even have time to reminisce?
I wondered, and I continued to get lost in my thoughts. I wondered how long friendship holds out and what makes it endure the power of time. I wondered about what makes friendship so beautiful that it is able to make us calm and blithe. I wondered about what makes the company of friends so powerful that it is able to make us temporarily forget our worries and troubles. I wondered about how friends – good friends – are able to free us and make us feel that there’s still something or someone worth living for in the midst of all our trials.
But, there’s no direct explanation to any of these. I may wonder, but nobody can give an absolute explication. How we see friendship will always vary, but one thing is true: we all want to keep it.
Friends will be just everywhere. Old friends, new friends, soon-to-be-made friends, good friends, foolish friends. But, who do you really want to keep? And, how do you plan on keeping them? Well, while your good friends are still there and are still by your side, make them feel loved and appreciated every chance you get. Take them out for dinner. Invite them to a movie screening. Greet them on their birthdays. Text them and ask them how they are. Send them links to websites or articles that remind you of them. Like their Facebook posts. Tag them in photos. Give them good comments. Support them in their activities or events. Surprise them. Hug them.
And maybe, 40 years from now, you’ll find yourself laughing alongside them as you enjoy a good meal at a fancy restaurant. Maybe, you’ll get to find out what makes your friendship beautiful, special, and unique. Maybe, you’ll finally know what makes your friendship able to endure the power of time.
Here’s to friendship and to keeping it for the rest of your life’s eternity.