I spent part of evening yesterday visiting with a lifelong friend in the hospital. His stay was a short one, overnight, yet he works out of town and we don’t visit often, other than the occasional text message or Facebook correspondence. I have known this friend for over 30 years, back to our school days and our lives have crossed paths many times as life has taken us in different directions. I sent him a message Tuesday to let him know that I thinking about him and hoped that the surgery would go well. Late yesterday afternoon after he had gotten to his room he messaged me to let me know how we was. After exchanging a few messages he told me he would love to see me and to come up. Without hesitation I told him i would be up to visit.
I live about 45 minutes away so the drive there provided me much time to ponder and reflect upon my friend and our lives. As young men we were both very driven and motivated. Our lives were very similar and we shared similar dreams and ideas about our lives and our future. The paths we took in life started on a very similar path, we graduated from high school together, we both left to serve missions for our church. Upon returning we began school, working and started our families. As life became busy as it often does, we would go years without talking only to run into each other and pick things up where they left off. Friendships like this don’t ever die, they continue regardless of what life brings.
My friend and I reconnected years ago through a devastating and deeply personal loss of his. I did everything that I could to be there for him and to help him while knowing I could in reality do nothing. This was going to take a lifetime and all I could do is love and care for him,which I have tried to do yet I know I have stumbled in this area many times for him. I wish I could have been a better support for him in his time of need.
We discovered as we reconnected the similarities in our lives with our struggles and challenges we had faced. We each had very different and unique obstacles before us, yet the pain of divorce, the lies and the deception of ex spouses, the fight for our rights as a father and other challenges were eerily similar. We handled these issues in different manners, we had grown apart in our social, political and religious views throughout this time when we hadn’t been around one another, finding ourselves in many levels on the extreme opposite sides of some of the most divisive issues our country is facing.
As I drove to the hospital I thought about the irony of this, here was one of my closest lifelong friends I have ever known. This was a man that I knew without doubt or hesitation I could call on a moments notice for help and he would give me the last shirt off his back or his last meal to help me. Our friendship has never been threatened or challenged as a result of our differing opinions and beliefs. While visiting in the hospital we discussed briefly some of these explosive issues, ones that usually would cause extreme arguments, in this case we always respect the others opinion and agree that we will never agree on these issues. There were no arguments, only discussion as we talked about them. The fact is that he has been one of the best friends I have ever known, certainly the most loyal.
As we talked, a comment he made resonated deep within me, it all revolves around compromise. He said that if we were the last 2 families left on the earth and we needed to build a home for our families and we only had time to build one home, we would never agree what needed to be in the home, yet we would build one that would meet both of our families needs because our families needed it. We are very similar this way, we will both put the needs of others ahead of our own. We compromise.
Imagine the problems that could be solved with compromise, compassion and friendship. The chasms that separate families, communities, friends, and this nation would all disappear with true compromise and placing others needs before our own. To my dear friend I say, thank you for the time yesterday and for your lifetime of friendship. There is no distance too great between those who care for each other.