Facebook allows most of us to chat with our old friends each day. We get to peak into their world and see what they are doing with children, grandchildren, careers and hobbies.

Locate an old friend Day allows us to think of people who mean something to us. Friendship is a fundamental relationship based on two or more people’s likeness of each other’s company. Usually, friendship is forged between two strangers who met in a public setting like educational institutes, parks/offices, and supermarkets/malls.

Last week I lost an old friend. I want to take this time to write this open letter to memorialize her.

Dear Anissa,

I was saddened to hear about your passing. My calendar reminded me that your birthday was due when I wandered over to your Facebook page and was shocked to find out you were no longer with us. We’d been friends for over 40 years. Our childhood school days were filled with our laughter, jokes and school girl dreams. My time being your school buddy was and is one that I look upon with joy.

In particular, our summer before we both headed off to high school stands out as a great memory. We had just graduated from grade school and were both filled with the possibilities the future held. We knew high school would present us with our first time in 8 years when we wouldn’t see each other daily and laugh at the silly homework assignments. That summer was the last time I didn’t work. That was my last summer as a carefree child. It’s a fond childhood memory. The kind of memory that sneaks up on you in the middle of the day when you are at the mall or when you’re trying to decide if you should call out sick!

Teenage years took us to different high schools and busy schedules. Though when we saw each other on the train our boisterous laughter and embrace and chatter all the way home surely woke the sleeping adult riders! College took you out of state. My college years kept me tethered to being a NYC girl. We were both so excited for each other’s success. Mine headed to the entertainment business and yours head to the medical world.

Through the years, we had (almost) grown to accept the current reality of our friendship—a reality that remained for the remainder of your life. Texts, emails, Facebook messages and occasional (rare?) phone calls were our primary modes of communication and for the most part, we accepted that. 

But while we may have accepted it, that doesn’t mean I didn’t wish things were different sometimes.

Over the years, we developed new friendships, close friendships even, with neighbors, work colleagues, —friendships that were formed, nurtured and sustained through constant interactions, shared activities and common goals. I am grateful for these new friends. We need them to fill the open and empty spaces. But these new friends aren’t you.

Life has been moving so fast lately, too fast sometimes. Days and weeks and months get caught up in conference calls and work deadlines, packing for trips and attending about a million events and before I know it, years slipped by. 

Yet, when we did meet up it was a great walk down memory lane because we were truly friends. We might go days, weeks, months or even years without an actual face-to-face conversation—our friendship subsisting on text messages and emails and Facebook status updates.

Hidden behind the walls of nostalgia are steel beams of a shared history, and underneath the years apart is a strong foundation built with decades of friendship. We are able to step back into those empty rooms left open by time apart and fill them with words and hugs and laughter as if there were no time lost at all.

With the backdrop of our shared youth, we are able to bridge the differences in our individual adulthoods. We talk about the ways that our lives are oh-so-different from back in the day and the ways we have changed. We spend time reminiscing, saying “Remember when…” and laughing until tears roll down our cheeks. I remember the last time we ran into each other. We laughed and thought about the pure irony that we were back at our old grade school sitting in the exact same pews, facing our old principal, but now as the adult care takers of children about the same age we were when we met.

Did we laugh so hard! Here we were being the adults. Imagine that and we giggled hysterically!

Through it all, we missed each other—until the next time, when we ran into each other and we would fill our conversation with all the things we needed to talk about while we laughed like we saw each other yesterday, and time would stand still for a little while.

I will miss you my friend. I will miss our days of simplicity and dreams. I will miss the hope we had when we were just mere girls. I will miss your encouragement. I will miss that smile and that laugh.

I will miss hearing you say, ‘Take care of yourself. You can’t do it all.’ and tilt your head to the side with a smile knowing I would do no such thing.

I would always respond, “I’ll try! Love ya millions.”

You would say, ” Love you back!”

Until next time…love ya millions… and rest well my friend.

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