When I Buried a Friend


Given the advancement in technology everyone and their dog are friends via social media and can stay in touch. Log into your phone or laptop and you will know exactly what your friend is eating at that moment half way across the globe. You can literally taste what he is savoring and even LIKE it! It's a different matter you might not remember the last time you actually (like in the body not cyber space) met your friend or hugged together or laughed together or cried together; at least you are up-to-date with his favourite cuisine. Technology has made it all so instant.

Life is instant. Friendships are instant. Updates are instant.

In the 'olden' days (trying not to give away my age here or my being an 'emotional fool' which a friend endearingly calls me) you had to write a letter. It was a process of remembering the times you shared with your friend or loved one and while smiling and shedding a couple of tears you would pen a letter over a number of hours or even a couple of days. It was like making jam, a slow sweet process sampling it along the way. And when you put the letter in the mail-box you began to imagine the journey it took to your loved one and the emotions it played on his/her face. Then would begin the looking forward of opening the mail-box waiting for your turn to receive your letter wrapped with more love and memories within its folds.

If I had to make an analogy to letter writing, you could say picking up the landline and making a paid call (versus a free skype one) would come close. Recently with a similar nostalgia I picked up the phone and dialed a number of a friend across the oceans. Smiling away in thought of the childhood we shared, the laughs, the secrets, the magical and carefree of days guarded in a treasure chest of love, I dialed her number. The phone rang with a long distance ringing tone and my heart raced to hear my friend's voice across the lines and as soon as she picked it up I felt all those moments treasured in my heart flow across the long telephone lines to her. I imagined her warm expression, her face lighting up and the surprise in her voice. I made a mistake -- I imagined a lot.

I was not welcomed with the same affection. There was polite conversation but the warmth was as distant as the geographical separation. I felt like an intruder interrupting an evening not an old friend wanting to reminisce of old times and silly childhood memories. The conversation was trite and formal, it felt like I was trying too hard and I bid adieu.

Unfortunately for me, it seemed that I had failed to keep up with the times. Life is instant. Friendships are instant. Updates are instant.

I had failed to keep up with the changing times and there were to be no words wrapped in love and memories. No jam to be tasted. The voice I heard was busy. Did not have the time to laugh and cry at the days gone by. I was not up-to-date. Where was the like button on the telephone line? Where was the sharing of the NOW? What an 'emotional fool' I was being, living in the past. The past so faded and jaded. I had failed to keep up with the changing times.

And as I shared this phone call over coffee and tears with a close confidante she gave me pearls of wisdom. The childhood I shared with my 'old friend' was carefree and fun. That was MY childhood. The childhood she shared with me was not. This was not about me. It was about her wanting to leave the memories of her own unfortunate circumstances and I was a reminder to it. I was a window into her past that she had barricaded and built a wall over. Yes, everyone is fighting their own fires; this was not about me it was about her building her present away from the memories of her past.

So today I bury a friend and all my memories with her. I am letting go of you my dear friend because I know you are in a better place, living a life far removed from your childhood and the memories it must bring for you. These words are wrapped with love, luck and the best wishes for you. You have a place in my heart locked forever in a treasure chest of love and friendship.

My biggest realization is that life is not always about ME. Everyone is fighting his or her daily battles of the past, present and future. They are not necessarily reacting or responding to me however much my ego might not want to accept this unpalatable reality.

If you have had a friend turn cold on you or a loved one walk out it might not necessarily be because of you... remember everyone is fighting their own fires.