Yesterday I received a Friend request on Facebook. I didn't recognize the name. I didn't recognize the face. It was an old face. I happen to be a relatively old chap myself. This person shared one friend with me. That gave me a hint that she shared the same thing my other friend shared with me. Having gone to high school together. You understand, this was in the 1960s.
So I went to her Facebook page and attempted some research. I finally discovered her maiden name by seeing a posting she made of her father. Now I could really get into the search. I scrounged around the house and found my yearbooks for my time at Exeter High School in Exeter, Missouri. There I was able to find her. She had been a year under me in classes. She had been sweet enough to write in my yearbook. I assume I had returned the favor. And her young face did ring a bell in my overflowing mind. I did remember her slightly. So I accepted her as a friend on Facebook. Now we will perhaps become reacquainted. Then again, knowing how Facebook friendships work, we may never make any contact at all.
This brought me to this musing. I started thinking about friendships. And as a corollary, I began contemplating love in its various manifestations. And another corollary is the joining of love with friendship. So let's go for a slow stroll through the deep grasses of the meadows of relationships. It may get a little difficult to find our way, but we can at least have fun agreeing or disagreeing with each other as we consider our own varied relationships.
We all have loves and lovers. Sometimes the people we love are never aware of the fact. We may keep it buried deep within our hearts, but it stays young and flourishing for years. Then, it must finally wither away, being unfed and unwatered and unkept, and it dies. Others are more lucky. They find deep and satisfying love that lasts and continues giving and living for years and years. I have been part of such a relationship. My wife and I have been married for more than 31 years, and have been together even longer. Our marriage is stable and thriving. We love each other and have done so since we first met in 1970.
We have not been a couple for all of those years. Oh no. While I was away in Panama serving in the Navy from 1971 to 1973 my wife became involved with someone else whom she believed she loved. I came home at her insistence and we did not connect. I returned to Panama, and not long after heard she was with someone else. They married. It was not until years later that I learned the marriage failed and ended after only a year.
We reconnected. Our love was re-established. We lived together and then, buying a home, decided to marry and become a traditional two person family. We have kept that little family, along with various dogs and cats, as a viable unit now since 1982. This is a love relationship. It is a friendship too, but that is only collateral. The love is central. So that is an example of love in a "significant other" type of relationship.
Now, I must be truthful. During those years that my wife and I were not a couple I was in love so many times I lose count. Is that unusual? I don't think so. As social creatures we crave relationships, and in our species that manifests quite often as love. So I was in what I thought was love several times. It never worked out. In some cases the objects of my love were also friends. At least I thought they were friends. Sometimes that was true, other times it was not. And it must be obvious that I could not have been truly in love all those times. It must be obvious to you that all your infatuations are not all deep loves. Life is not like that. If it doesn't work, if the love is not really there, move on. Try again. Keep your hope that someday the true one will appear.
But, anyway, I think we all agree that love itself does exist. Some are lucky enough to be a part of a loving relationship, some are unfortunate enough to never have that occur. But the word means something, it refers to an actual emotion. However, one thing that interests me is the combination of love and friendship. How does that work out? Does it even exist?
One dear friend of mine I have not actually seen for about 25 years. But we are on Facebook together and stay in touch. He was a buddy and a friend from the Navy. We were Spanish linguists together. He out-ranked me because he was better at it. He came back and eventually became the chair of the history department at his college. He is still active but looking forward to retiring soon. I am not ashamed to say that I have a love for him. I have friends. I only love a few of them.
My wife shares such a relationship. She made friends with a younger man in a class while I was working and she was going to college and also working. This young man became a true friend to her. He has since become the chair of the geography department at his university. She and he share friendship, and I believe they do indeed have a love for each other. Different from hers with me, but still valid and viable.
Are these friendships with a love component rare or common? Well, I think they are actually quite rare. My wife has at least one other female friend that I think she had a deep love for also. A friendship love. And I have an old friend from over 35 years ago who I did indeed love. But I am afraid he never shared that feeling. We were friends in name, acquaintances in actuality. We now just communicate on our birthdays. That will have to do.
Friends are a blessing, of course. I am blessed now with more friends than I have had in years. And it is all thanks to the internet and computers. Right here on this site I have dear friends. On other sites I have more. I won't name any of them. That would embarrass them and is not necessary to simply illustrate the point I am making. I could also state that a very few of them have raised the emotion of love in me. Friendship love, you understand?
The loss of this friendship, and in the process, the love it carried with it can be almost devastating. I know this from experience. As this is written I can say that in the past year I have lost the friendship of at least two dear friends. Both of these friends I felt would be part of my life until I passed beyond. One I joked with that we had to stay alive 30 years to maintain the friendship. I held her friendship in such esteem that I did, indeed, have a deep love for her, a friendship love.
The other maintained that she did love me and we would always be friends. I know I loved her. A friendship love. My wife was aware of both of these friendships and that they both ended abruptly. The fault was, of course, mine. I destroyed those precious relationships somehow, and perhaps they can never be mended. Forgiveness, like friendship itself, is a blessing. We can never have too many blessings.
To all those who have been or will be my friends, in the past and in the future, bless you, and, sometimes, be prepared to accept my love. It is the best thing I can give, along with my honor and integrity.