After the outpouring of love and support over the past few days about Charly's death, I don't think I want to "count my age by friends"...I'd be really, really old! I know there will be days when the Charly memories hit me hard...I know there will be tears...but right now God has answered prayers and I feel a warm, fuzzy cushion all around me. I feel blessed because I had weeks to prepare myself for Charly's death and shower him in love and attention beforehand and I feel blessed because of all the friends who have stepped up with words of comfort.
I'm afraid if I counted my age by friends...oh, what the heck - I would just look really good for my age because it would be way over 50, that's for sure!
"Count your age by friends, count your life by smiles." - Author Unknown
This was the complete quote that my friend Stacy posted as her Facebook status this evening. It resonated with me...and not just because of the support we've received about Charly. I realized what a blessing Facebook has been in my life.
If my kids read my blog, they would roll their eyes right now. They still believe "old" people like me shouldn't be on Facebook. But over the last few months I have gotten to know people in a way you just don't have time for otherwise...both family and friends...people from past jobs and from around town that I don't bump into anymore...people from high school that I regret I didn't really know back then. (I've heard people say "If I wasn't friends with them in high school, why would I want to be friends with them now?" Well, I feel it's better late than never. For the most part, we've gotten over our angst and insecurities - we've grown up and can be our true selves now. And let me tell you...I went to school with some amazing people!)
One of the most rewarding aspects of Facebook has been reconnecting with people who were huge parts of my life and then, somehow, they just slipped away. How does this happen? Why do we let it happen?
One of those friends is Don. We became friends through church in junior high...briefly girlfriend/boyfriend but mostly brother/sister. We spent hours on the phone. We were best friends. Then we went separate ways...
But through Facebook and mutual friends we've become friends again. No...brother and sister again. I haven't seen him in person, but that doesn't matter. The years have been brushed away. (I admit, this is still the way I picture him, despite the fact that he's a grandpa now...this was taken on a church choir trip in 8th grade...)
It's a little bit of a risk when you come across a name from your past - will they remember me? If they do, what do they remember? Was I nice to them the last time we spoke? But being fifty is very liberating. I'm willing to take a chance and assume they remember me, and that they are as eager as I am to reconnect, and they'll forgive me for any past transgressions. If they're not, so be it. At least I tried.
Considering all of that, I have been blessed this week. Even as I mourned Charly, God put these other people in my path, people from my childhood...people I think of every time we drive down Washington to my parents' house. We turn onto Washington from Beltway...that's Vickie's house. And there on the corner of my block - that's where Guy and Gary lived...and the other corner - that's where Ricky lived.
I stumbled upon Gary first, on a page created for Deepwater people like me. He had posted something on there, and with his unusual last name, I knew it had to be him. Still, he was older than me...would he remember me? He did.
Then I saw Vickie's name...and then Ricky's. I remember that time we were dropped off at the Capitan theater...me, Vickie and Ricky (they're cousins)...and she was put in charge of us (she was probably 8, Ricky was 6, and I was 5...maybe) and she decided instead of watching the movie, we should walk to her aunt's house a couple of miles away through the heart and across many busy streets of Pasadena. Let me vouch for her...she got us across those streets and to her aunt's house safe and sound!
Today I "talked" to both Vickie and Ricky for the first time in close to 40 years, and it felt as natural as if we had shared that adventure yesterday.
Ricky...he was my first friend outside of my family...part of my earliest memories. We spent almost every day together for the first ten years of my life. And then we parted. I don't remember the last time I talked to him. How does that happen, that you are so close to a person, practically family, and then POOF! they're gone?
I guess you get to a certain point in your life when you grow apart. The connection you had never goes away...you remember the person, remember the times you shared...but before Facebook came along, chances were you would never see that person again - they would stay in your heart as memories, but that was it. In that way, Facebook is a pathway for miracles. And I'm so grateful for the miracles that have come my way this past year.
"It's no good trying to keep up old friendships. It's painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it." - W. Somerset Maugham
I feel sorry for Maugham...I guess he didn't live long enough to see that you can grow back into people. I'm so grateful I have. But then, he didn't have Facebook. I'm so grateful I do.
(me and Ricky in his back yard...circa 1963...my house was the brown one two doors down, where the laundry is hanging out to dry...)