The dictionary tells us that to endure means that “something continues to exist without any loss in quality or importance.”
This past month, with the loss of a loved one, I learned a great deal about enduring friendship.
During the month of Karen’s passing, her memorial service and the reception that followed, I was reminded so often in notes and conversations about Karen’s lifelong success in building enduring friendships. From the neighbor she met at age 2, through high school, college and all the activities that followed, enduring friendships formed.
While I have always enjoyed strong professional relationships and many friends, the number of enduring friendships, if I am honest, is a small fraction of the number Karen formed. It was astounding to embrace the joy of remembering long ago moments and shared experiences that found expression all month long…in fact, the power of enduring friendships was expressed during the past few months visits, calls and messages.
Time was when we didn’t move through life so fast. When the town was a community where the townspeople knew each other and shared experiences together. We find ourselves more worldly while also more dispersed. Staying in touch is easier electronically, but schedules test our ability to sit and enjoy moments face to face.
For many, the professional relationships and even friendships fall away over the years. But, for the enduring friendships – and here’s the lesson – time and distance are of no consequence. With Karen’s enduring friendships there was no loss in quality or importance.
During this past month as we celebrated Karen’s life, whether people came across the country (as some did by car) or from next door, the expressions of friendship formed decades ago or only months earlier were heart-warming, deep and sustaining.
A friend offered a poignant perspective on all of this as I explained the task of looking at decades old documents that mean little today; in fact, many I never knew we had. The point was made that at the time they seemed so important, which is why they were saved; but, what has truly lasted and what was really so important then and now are the friendships around those shared experiences.
Important lessons…and going forward, I intend to work harder at building enduring friendships and be far less concerned about records of past acts. With more years behind me than ahead of me, the lesson of the enduring friends comes at no better time.
Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore.