Bonnie Bing: Never take good friends for granted

04/14/2013 7:51 AM

04/14/2013 7:52 AM

The message said, “It’s over.”

With those two words, I knew my friend Karla had died. And as my heart sank to the pit of my stomach, I read, “promises were kept.” Her husband, Joe, kept his promises to her, but Karla, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October, also kept her promises.

She never caved in and asked, “Why me?” Instead, she found joy and peace and love in every day she had left. She taught us all a lesson in her never-wavering faith.

And she made sure at journey’s end that Joe would know how to do everything at their home, from sorting and washing the laundry to setting the microwave. I can’t imagine the number of lists she made in her last months.

I’ve lost several friends through the years, but it certainly never gets easier. Each loss reminds me of the importance of friendship. And it’s a reminder that friendships have to be nurtured just like any other relationship.

I was only in fifth grade, but I remember having a conversation with my dad about who our best friends were. My answer was Cynthia, who lived down the street. I told him, “She’s a great friend.” That’s when Dad said, “You have to be a great friend to have a great friend, and you have to work at it to keep your great friend.”

It made some sense then, but now it’s crystal clear.

All our busy schedules seem to get in the way of “working at it” to make friends a priority. The effort is worth it.

At lunch last week, I had a similar conversation with my friend Marni. She and I taught at the same school in the ’70s and have been friends ever since. We don’t get to see each other often, but we make sure we have our April birthday lunch and stay in touch year-round. We agreed you have to be a friend to have friends, but it’s easy to take close friendships for granted.

But don’t.

It can’t be said too often: We don’t know what tomorrow will bring for us personally, or for our friends.

We only can hope for the best, and for best friends.

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