Mary Ann and I met in kindergarten at Jackson Elementary School on the south side of Youngstown, Ohio. We spent the next eight years in the same classes together. My mother even allowed me to walk to Mary Ann’s house – which included crossing busy Midlothian Blvd. We played. We laughed. We sat on each other’s beds to share little girl secrets.
Once we went to high school, our interests took us in different directions and toward different careers. Mary Ann went to nursing school. I pursued my music and theology degrees.
Throughout the years when I would look at those group elementary school photos, I saw Mary Ann’s picture and I remembered all the fun times we had together growing up.
I wondered what happened to her…
Then came Facebook and I found her! (Social media may have its downside, but finding old friends is one of its pluses.) On Facebook I learned about Mary Ann’s life since high school – her career as a nurse, her husband, family, interests, that she lived in Florida. What a joy to reconnect through the internet with a dear, dear friend!
When Mark and I decided to look for possible locations for retirement after our Air Force life we carefully constructed our “must have” list: East Coast. Warm. Ocean. One location that stood out for us was Jacksonville, Florida. An Air Force colleague had suggested the community of Ponte Vedra, just south of Jacksonville. We planned a trip to Florida and contacted a realtor.
Then it dawned on me! I looked again at Mary Ann’s Facebook page and her home was listed as “Ponte Vedra Beach!” Could it be that Ponte Vedra and Ponte Vedra Beach were close to each other? After over 40 years, was it possible I would see my old friend?
I contacted Mary Ann to see if she and her husband would be free for dinner when we were in town. They was available. When I saw Mary Ann, here was the dear, sweet friend of so many years ago. The years slipped away. We were two young girls again from Youngstown, Ohio. We hugged. We laughed. We cried. I remembered fondly the beautiful buckeye tree that shaded her family’s front yard. She called to mind the smell of the beautiful lilacs that bloomed in my parents’ backyard and the large bouquets we would share. What a gift of friendship and goodness to renew after a 45+ year pause!
This is what friendship is all about. Sometimes we lose touch with friends because life happens. Careers. Moves. Family. Time often slips away. But what remains is goodness. Goodness is the glue that binds our lives together. Goodness connects us. Goodness shows the passage of time is truly an illusion. Buckeye trees and lilac bushes bloom in the memories we share. We are always together – heart to heart.
I think there was a time when I took friendship for granted. People came and went in my life. Sometimes their addresses ended up on our Christmas card list but other times we did not have contact again. But now I am becoming more mindful when it comes to the gift of friendship and the goodness that comes from it.
South African Anglican Cleric and civil rights activist, Desmond Tutu once said,
“God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.”
There are those people in our lives with whom we reconnect instantly regardless of the passage of time and distance. We pick up with them as if it was yesterday. We laugh. We cry. We hug. No agendas. This is mindful friendship and it reveals mindful goodness.
Take some time today to think mindfully about a friend who touched your life but because of time and circumstances, you have lost touch. Then reach out – either literally or through wonderful mindful memories – and connect to the friendship and goodness once again.