Giving Thanks for Missing Friends
I’m paraphrasing a line from Doctor Who, but that’s certainly the intent of the Doctor’s message.
As Americans pause to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and even those in other countries mark the day with giving thanks by volunteering, it’s a sentiment worth considering.
Holidays - like anniversaries and birthdays - can be painful for anyone who’s lost someone they love. We are haunted by memories of time spent together, and I use the word “haunted” deliberately. The memories don’t necessarily make us feel good.
But as we give thanks, let us remember - without being haunted - our friends.
I’ll remember laughing on the phone with Carol, who watched the Iran-Contra hearings on C-SPAN as she lay dying from breast cancer.
I’ll remember dancing with Steve, so handsome in his tux, in the Gold Coast Room of the Drake Hotel, just months before he developed full-blown AIDS.
I’ll remember sitting at Academy of the Sacred Heart’s Prize Day with Delle, taking pictures of our daughters and making plans for the summer.
I’ll remember conversations with Chris in the cafeteria, full of teenage-angst and solutions for the world’s problems.
They’re not big things. They’re ordinary: dancing, talking, and laughing. But the little things make up our lives: those simple, everyday, sometimes boring things that mean so much to us later on.
My daughter once asked me why grownups don’t just hang out like kids do: they always seem to need an excuse to get together (a meal, a movie, a special occasion). I guess we get so busy we feel we have to make formal appointments, do specific things, because just “hanging out” isn’t important enough.
This holiday I’ll most likely be remembering those times I hung out with friends: in dorm rooms, the basement of my parents’ house, school cafeterias, apartments. I won’t feel haunted, though I may feel a little sad that those friends aren’t here anymore to hang out with.
How about doing the same? Remember the friends who are no longer with you: the little things you did together that cemented your friendship. Feel sad if you want, but not guilty, because even though there weren’t enough of them, those moments did exist.
And while you’re at it, call up a friend who’s still around. And just hang out.