Forrest Gump told us “you never know what you’re going to get.” I am a person that makes friends everywhere. Every person has a story , and each person that I meet has something worthwhile to add to my collection, whether I know that person for a few minutes or a lifetime.
I love stories and storytelling. The first few months of my marriage, I heard “stop making friends at Wal-Mart” every time we ran an errand.
The best part about my life’s work is that I meet anywhere from 50-100 new people every few months. Every September, I meet a new group of people, and the same happens every January.
I make friends easily and I keep my friends close. I finally have a skulk of best friends that know my soul because they shape it.
I have friends with various ethic, backgrounds, religious beliefs, genders, and sexual orientations. Each one of them with a rich story.
I met my friend Brandie a few years ago at school. At the time, I was her teacher.
She struck me as an old soul. She had wise contributions to add to class discussion and her writing always exceeded my expectations.
Close to two years after our class ended, social media brought us back into each other’s lives. I had since changed schools and staying in touch was difficult. Sometimes social media’s far reaching power is for the greater good.
Come to find out, we had mutual friends that were not connected from our former school. The world isn’t just small. Sometimes it’s a shoe box. For an ant.
I’ve gotten to know her better through conversations about her hobbies, our mutual status as “dog mom”, and art. Brandie is an amazingly talented painter. Her work makes me think to collaborate on poetry and painting.
A couple days ago, she lost a friend. All I know about this man is that he was affectionately called Goat. And he lived in her hometown.
I saw her post about the loss, and my heart sank.
People that I love don’t deserve pain. Ever.
I found out that he was also a tattoo artist and a painter as well.
People, it seems are boxes of chocolate. Every variation of confection a side of the complex nature of personality.
Her friend passed away.
And my eyes filled with tears.
At first, I thought of his family and his friends and my heart went out to them. I’ve been there. I have experienced losses of my own.
I felt sorry for them.
And then Henry David Thoreau came to mind.
And I sound like a sacrilegious English teacher when I say that although I admire his work, I don’t know it that well.
But I did remember this:
“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.”
I often paraphrase him and say “it’s our job to live for our friend now.”
In my own life, I think about the maternal grandparents I didn’t know, my great grandmother that I loved so much, whose life ended when mine was in its oddly shaped preteen form. I think of my dad’s grandparents on his father’s side. I never knew them either.
I think about the friends I have and how lucky I am to have them. Either via text (again, thank you “modern” technology) or phone call, I can talk to them whenever I need to.
We all have people we love who inspire us. And we all have people that leave our lives too soon. It’s as if they don’t get a chance to finish their stories. We all have a Goat.
We are left as the co-authors of their great works. Every day we talk about them and remember them, we are picking up our pens and contributing to their books.
I think that it part of art’s role. As an artist, my creations aren’t just my story. My art is the story of the lives I have collected. The people u hold dear and the tiny glimpses of lives I am only in the audience for.
“They” say that “time heals all wounds.”
Well, buggers to that.
Time might heal the wound, but we ought to wear our scars proudly.
“This was my friend. I wrote this about…..”
“I love you grandma, I hope your proud…”
Our scars remind us of the stories. The ones we are left to continue. In a way, they are bookmarks. Reminding us to pick up where the story left off.