I have a confession to make.
For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, Michael W. Smith's song, Friends, irritates me.
I suspect he wrote it deliberately to be a tearjerker. It's something you'd expect to be played at a funeral for high school students killed in tragic and senseless circumstances.
And that's been happening far too much lately. As I write this, a week before publication, six students in a nearby Ohio community have died in a traffic accident. Carelessness, driving too fast, unsafe road conditions -- the evidence is still being collected as speculations fly fast and furious. One night, eight good friends went out for some fun, and only two came home. They had their lives ahead of them -- cut short. How do you deal with that? How do you deal with it if you don't know where your friend's soul is headed?
Yesterday, I gave myself some goof-off time with a friend visiting from Texas. (Wave to the nice people, Lynn Anne!) We've known each other since we were tossed into the same crib in the church nursery. (Small nursery, big crop of babies that year) We're exactly two weeks apart, birthday-wise, and she often sends me birthday cards that taunt me about being older. That's what friends do. Whenever she and her husband come to visit her parents, we get together, and in some ways, nothing about us has changed. (I refuse to accept that we're old enough for her kids to be married!)
Our lives didn't follow our high school plans, but we'll always be the same where it counts. That's not a Midwest thing -- that's a FRIENDS thing. No matter what happens, no matter what tragedies and sorrows and successes and choices pull us apart, we'll be there for each other, sharing celebrations and sorrows and the daily grind. Whoever dies first will be waiting when the other gets to heaven. ("Hurry up! I've made an appointment for massages at the salon right next to the frozen yogurt place." Well -- yeah, it's HEAVEN, right?)
So I guess what I'm working up to is this: Take care of your friends. Hold onto your friends. Because friends should be forever.