Yesterday morning I received the news that a dear friend had been rushed to the hospital, prognosis unknown. I was hit with all the usual feelings that accompany really bad news: shock, worry, grief and uncertainty. But as the day went on, two thoughts kept pushing their way to the front of my jumbled emotions. The first was that I was in no way ready to lose my friend and couldn’t even bear to think about a life without her. The second one was that I wasn’t completely sure she knew how much I valued our friendship or was aware of exactly how much I not only liked her, but respected and admired her as well. Which, of course, made the thought of losing her that much worse.
I wondered if I had ever told her how much I appreciate having her in my life, or how much I enjoy her company. Did I let her know that I love the way she always answers my questions honestly, instead of just telling me what she knows I want to hear? Or how much I count on her for advice when I can’t find my own way forward? Or how much I appreciate the many times she’s literally stood by my side when I needed moral support to deal with delicate and difficult situations? I had to admit that I didn’t know.
And as much as I wished I had made absolutely sure she knows how much I value her friendship, I also wondered if I had ever let her know exactly why I wanted to be her friend in the first place. Sure, she’s always nice to me, and that’s an important part of any friendship. But my close friends aren’t just nice, they are also people I admire and and believe to be genuinely good and decent. Not perfect, of course, because no one is perfect. But they are people who are good, deep down in their heart.
So I worried I hadn’t let her know how much I admire the way she lives her life on her own terms, doing what she thinks is right even when others disagree, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. I am in awe of her generous spirit, her can-do attitude and her willingness to accept others for who they are, without judging or trying to change them. But I’m not at all sure I ever told her any of that, even though I know how much we all need to hear those kinds of validating words from the people who know us best.
This morning, I got the wonderful news that my friend is going to be just fine. Words can’t express how happy that made me (and all the other people who love her), and I am beyond relieved. More importantly, I hope that I have learned a lesson from the past twenty-four hours about how necessary it is to let the people we love know how much we care about them, and why. Because life doesn’t always give us second chances.