Goodbye to My Friend for a Season

Gary and I were regulars at the down-town gym that was frequented by other professionals squeezing in their workouts before the day began. That friendly face who always had a smart-ass remark and was good at networking. That’s who Gary was to me.

Several years had passed and I had not seen Gary. He reached out to me one day to get together for lunch to network. We chatted about ways to share contacts and then caught up on favorite topics – kids, cars, wine and travel. It was a difficult time in my life – the early stages of my separation to my husband of 22 years.  I shared with him my sadness on my loss and as we walked back to the office, he stopped and bought me a dozen roses – just like that! No, it wasn’t a pass, he didn’t want to date me. He was just kind. I NEVER forgot that gesture – one that I really needed at that time in my life.

Gary & I stayed in touch in the years to follow. His business continued to grow, he traveled more, he went back to school and life was good. And then, the pivotal lunch date in our friendship – the day he said he had news for me that he wanted to share in person… this was the lunch date he told me he had cancer. We shared hugs and I vowed I’d be there for him.

I didn’t visit him in the hospital or at home. I offered so many times to bring him food, sit by his side, run errands for him but he didn’t need any of that from me. He had a strong support group of family and close friends. So I did what I could – I sent him emails every couple of weeks to check on him and share thoughts of cheer and positive energy. He always appreciated the notes and words of encouragement. It was such a battle of pain, suffering, ups and downs, improvements and setbacks and after about a year, he was ready and able to recover and enjoy a “normal” life. We met for lunch a couple of times thereafter, talking again about families, cars, and travel.

We didn’t have a deep friendship – we had a friendship I would consider now as “seasonal” friendship. That person that’s in your life for a period of time to share a season or a stage of your life. When he seemed “fine”, we let the friendship go. It’s like we were done for some reason, not in a sad or mad way, but in a peaceful conclusive way.  I know we were both okay with that. It was if our friendship had served its purpose.

As I read the newspaper yesterday, I found Gary’s obituary. I am saddened that he has left this world and I am sad for his family and dear friends. I have no regrets we didn’t touch base before his passing. I’m sure he was sharing his life with those who meant the most to him. He fought a bitter battle but Gary also loved life and he lived it and for that he is blessed. I thought about what we did for each other. It wasn’t much but I think we both made a difference to one another in times of our lives when we needed it. For that, I will never forget Gary, that great smile, that kind heart, the one who loved life and went for it.

… do you ever think about these “seasonal” friends? How blessed our we to have them in our lives.

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