Saying Goodbye to a Childhood Friend

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Today a dear friend from my childhood was laid to rest. We lost touch a long time ago, but today as I think about those that are gathered to say goodbye to him, I find myself recalling the summers that we spent hanging out with each other, sitting in the back of a pick up in the middle of ranch land with nothing on the horizon for what seemed like eternity. We sat there on the gate of the truck, two children, really, our legs swinging, as we shared our dreams and insecurities, fears and hopes for the future. There was an affinity between us born of the knowledge that we were both adopted. While we both knew our families loved us and wanted us, there was a kinship between us because of that bond, and it made us special friends.

After high school, we lost touch and built lives on two very different paths. From time to time, I would hear news of him from family, but our paths never crossed again.

Today a small gathering in a small ranch town in New Mexico said goodbye to a loved one, to a friend, to a brother, and I find it a lot harder than I thought to say goodbye to my friend. It isn’t just saying goodbye to someone who has died far too early, although that is true. He wasn’t even yet fifty years old. It is more than that. It is the somber reminder that the dreams of our childhood sometimes come to naught. Maybe the silly dreams that the two of us shared on hot summer days really did just belong in childhood, but I’m grateful for them all the same.

Perhaps the best way I can honor his early death is by not giving up on my own dreams or allowing life’s struggles to diminish the dreams I still hold in my heart, to believe that there is still time to do something with the days left that bring joy.

There’s only so much time we’re given to face the demons that haunt us at night, the ones that keep us from taking risks and making changes. I haven’t faced all of mine, and I don’t know how much more time I have. And so as I say goodbye to a friend who listened to some of my earliest dreams and fears, I’m going to say goodbye to the fears that have held me back as well.

Goodbye, my friend. Goodbye.

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