Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A Reason, A Season, or A Lifetime?

It is a privilege knowing you, whether it be for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  
Back in college, one of the very first emails I got was from a high school friend who was attending a different university than I was.  It was a forward, in a time when forwarded email messages were like the memes we share on Facebook today.  Something would resonate, and we'd hit "Forward."

Man, those days seem like fodder for weeks of posts.  The nostalgia is hitting hard lately, knowing that it has been two decades since I GRADUATED from college.  Wow!

But back to this forwarded message.  It was about friendship, and how people come into our lives: A Reason, A Season, or A Lifetime.

People who are brought to us for a Reason don't stay long.  They are brought to us to serve a purpose.  You share a common thread that lasts a little while, and then it ends.  One or the other of us is going through something intense, maybe, and the other is there to help or teach us.  Or you're meant to work on a project or a job together, and when that project or job ends, you both move on, and become people you each used to know.  

The people who are in our lives for a Season are around a little longer.  Like high school or college friends.  The friends you have when you're all newly married and living in a certain place.  The friends you make at the park when your kids are little, or the parents of your kids' friends.  Fellow PTA moms and dads.  You're in the same season of life.  There's lots of common ground, and it's convenient to get together, because you're always showing up at the same places.  And then people get divorced or move away.  The kids grow up.  You graduate from school.  The season changes, and you grow apart.

And then there are the people who are your Lifetime friends.  Lifetime friends can come into your life at any time.  They might start out as Reasons or Seasons and they stick.  They're your Tribe.  They become like family.  You can go days, months, or years without talking and next time you see each other, it is as though no time has passed, and you pick your conversation right up where you left off.  Or, you make the effort to see your Lifetime friends regularly.  They're the ones you call when everything's gone wrong.  They know you at your best and your worst and can tell you so.  These people are ride-or-die, and you treasure each other.

I took this email to heart as much as a seventeen year-old can, who believed that every friend from high school was going to be a Lifetime friend.  I think the message was an oversimplification of how it really works, but I think the bones are good.  People leave your life, but they can come back in unexpected ways, at unexpected times.  

On myself, I've been working hard on making peace with being left behind in some people's lives because I was just there for a reason.  I've been trying to come to terms that we live many different seasons simultaneously, yet they begin and end at different times, sometimes unexpectedly.  And I've really been trying to reflect on and appreciate my Lifetime Friends-who they are, how we got to be Lifetime Friends; and I've been trying to control the burning in my lungs that I feel when I think of losing any of them.  

Also, I think I've really been taking stock of whether or not I'm worthy to be a Lifetime Friend.  Does anybody ever get that lung-burning panic at the thought of losing me from their life the way I do when I think of growing apart from my Lifetime Friends?  I even have a hard time moving on from most people for whom I've been a Reason or a Season, to be honest.  I have a big heart and I love hard and I get a little heartbroken when people float out of my life.  I always wonder if I've done something wrong.  

I wonder sometimes what I bring to the Table of Friendship.  Because sometimes it seems like people have an easy time letting me go.  Maybe that's just me, hurting my own feelings.  It probably is.  But in case I was ever a shit-bag human being and a friendship ended because of it, I try to reconstruct and post-mortem the hell out of that friendship.  

I think this is coming from a feeling of standing at the point where a whole bunch of tectonic plates of seasons converge in my life.  Fortyish seems to be a place in everybody's life where seasons and the ground shift.  Things fall away and new drops in.  It's change.  And change makes me a little jittery.  

When things change, there's always a moment of reckoning.

So here I am, Friends.  We don't know what Tomorrow brings.  But know this:

Whether for you I am a Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime, it is an honor and a privilege to be in your life and walk this little stretch of the Journey with you, and I will hold you in my heart forever.

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