This month marks the 4 year anniversary of the last time I saw or heard from my ‘best‘ friend. I happen to know it’s been four years because the last time we hung out was the month I moved into my last house (April of 2009).
For a while I used to try calling him, but he’d never answer his phone. Eventually, I lost his number, thank you Verizon Wireless for the Droid that killed my phone book!
I met him my senior year of high school, Michael had just gotten out of county jail; he had stolen a four-wheeler ATV and brazenly drove it around his suburban neighborhood. The neighbors called the police because they didn’t like seeing a 4-wheeler making so much noise in the Burb’s and when the police arrived they noticed it had been reported stolen.
Michael was a typical American tragedy; raised in a low-rent suburb, hooked on drugs, going nowhere during his teens, lived in his van selling drugs to high schoolers, and he bounced from one girl to the next trying to hook up with anything that moved and had boobs.
In jail, Michael ‘found god’.
When my parents moved to Florida (I was eighteen) Michael and I shared a place together and off & on for the next decade we were inseparable. For a period of time our house was the it spot and the center of a lot of action. Life in the late 90’s was fun and exciting. Even the music was upbeat with songs like “I Just Wanna Fly” by Sugar Ray and “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow.
Who knows if he really found god or not, but for the next decade of his life Mike made serious improvements forward and eventually found himself married with four children and working in a successful career.
He was young.
Barely 30 years old and four children under the age of nine.
It was a heavy load for he and his wife and a combination of both his poor upbringing and the negative elements of his wife’s childhood led to an eventual divorce.
It wasn’t a pretty divorce….are divorces ever pretty?
As a counselor, I realize that sometimes divorce is necessary.
But, whether good or bad; divorce often has long range consequences.
Divorce doesn’t just break up family units; it breaks up communities of friends.
Prior to their marriage, I was actually friends with both Mike & his wife….when they began the bitter divorce, it put me in the middle (sheesh! sounds like I was their kid doesn’t it?!) and its tough to stay friends with both of the divorcing parties when they each want to bash the other.
I don’t blame Michael for losing touch with me and his other friends that haven’t heard from him in years.
I realize that the divorce and situational elements he was dealing with were probably a psychological heavy load and it was probably all he could do to keep his head above water.
yet…..all of this causes me to reflect.
I realize now that in the here-and-now we can’t always determine who are ‘best’ friends are…..because; its only through time that we find out who they are.
When I was in grammar school I had ‘best’ friends that I didn’t even stay in touch with once I was in high school.
Who are our ‘best’ friends….I think we know who they are because they’re the ones who are still in our lives years and years later.
It’s only over the long-haul of life that we find out who are closest friends are.
I have a couple friends in my life that I’ve known just as long as I knew Mike….but back then we were merely acquaintances. Now, nearly 20 years later those ‘acquaintances’ are people that I talk to nearly every day….they are now my close friends.
Life is like that; things change, seasons change, and the people who are still standing by our side when we are old are the people we’ve grown closest too; they are the people who are there for us.
When I was young I threw out terms like ‘best friend’ rather flippantly.
Now if you ask me, “Kenneth, who are you’re best friends’
“Let me get back to you on my deathbed; my best friends will still be there by my side”.
I think I’ll get a cup of coffee now.