Tonight's post was going to be about our recent trip to Breakout, in a bid to blog more regularly, and write about things as they happen, rather than months after the event. Then today, we found out that an old school friend had died, and it seemed a bit flippant to sit and write about room escapes when I was feeling this strange mix of emotions. It also seemed overly dramatic, though, to write this post about loss, when I don't really feel the right to make claim on those feelings, having not seen him in many years.
It has got both The Husband and I feeling reflective, and there is that troubling sense of relationships that once meant so much having disappeared somewhere along the way, and not being able to put your finger on when, or why. We were both very close to him, in that way you are as teenagers, convinced that you will be friends forever. He was probably key to The Husband and I first starting dating, through his friendship and advice, and we shared exams, milestone birthdays, holidays. Gradually, though, as happens, you see less of each other, contact becomes less frequent, and while there was never any sense of a parting of ways, or an ending of the friendship, it is a long time since we last saw him. There have been messages, occasional online exchanges, and plans to meet that never materialised, both parties equally guilty of failing to keep those promises to get together and catch up.
I can't help but wonder at how such a strong, close friendship got lost in among the mundane, the everyday, and to think about whether it's a sign that our priorities are wrong somehow. That focussing on the minutiae of daily life stops us putting time and effort into the things, and people, that actually matter. There is another part of me, though, that knows that friendships, relationships, even ourselves, change over the years. I am not who I was at 16, 18, or even 25, and as we move through different stages of life, our connections and those we keep company with change too. Social media, I think, has made us the first generation that has almost permanent superficial connections with people that in years gone by, we would simply have lost touch with. We see what is going on in people's lives without being part of it, and feel somehow linked to them without any real effort on either side, then something like this happens and the loss feels real, and deep, even if the relationship wasn't so much. I think the flip-side to that is that it makes it easier to feel that you are maintaining a relationship with occasional birthday wishes, and a liking of a photograph, only to look back, as I did today, and realise it is over a year since you shared any kind of conversation, and that, sadly, you cannot even recall for certain the last time you met.
Part of me wants to reach out, and re-forge connections with lots of old school friends, re-establish contact with people who have been part of my history. But I think that part of growing older is accepting that there are some people in your past who you will have seen for the last time, and being comfortable with that. For the most part I am, but I also feel sad, and ashamed, that I didn't do more to nurture and treasure this particular friendship, that of all those superficial connections, this was one of the few that was worth more effort, and I think the 18 year olds in my memories would never have forseen this ending as they planned their futures together.
I don't really know how to end this. I want to explain that this is not a sympathy-seeking exercise, but that sounds crude. I am never one for writing condolence messages on social media, or writing posts to, or about, people that have passed away. That is not to judge, or somehow criticise those that do, I just don't choose to express my grief in that way. And so, I feel uncomfortable about writing this, but also uncomfortable about pretending it hasn't happened. Even to talk about grief seems self-centred, somehow creating a personal drama from the death of someone I hadn't seen in a very long time. We may not have been close, or in regular contact these days, but I guess my enduring feeling is that he was still someone I considered a friend, and for the memories we shared, and for those teenage years and the friendship we had, I am grateful.