There is much to be said about old friends. In quotes, in the five regrets of the dying, in The Golden Girls theme song. But life gets busy, doesn’t it? It gets complicated—marriages, jobs, kids, errands. Friendships that were once part of us seem to fade into the background as lives grow and shift.
Being the always optimist, the queen of nostalgia, the friend who probably holds on just a little too tight, I have always seen the value in the old. The familiar. I’m the person who orders the same menu item every time at my favorite restaurant. I’m the one who is always there for an old friend, no matter what.
Growing older, I’ve been gently (and not so gently) reminded that some people are not meant to live in our lives forever. I spent a good portion of my 30s trying unsuccessfully to disprove this notion. Clutching to the old with desperation as I felt people I loved slipping away. It still hurts my heart now, wishing life didn’t go this way.
It is difficult to discern who to fight for and who to let go. I’m still working on it. Praying about it. Getting clarity on it. My thoughts on it are this (maybe you remember this little rhyme): “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”
Yes, we need to grow and shift. Yes, there are people in our lives who will sadly go. Yes, some of the new friends I have made in my 40s give me something fresh, a version of myself I didn’t know was there. That matters. That’s special. I’m thankful for it and cherish it. It’s silver, and it’s beautiful.
Yet, there is something so special about a person who remembers that amazing Halloween costume you wore in fifth grade, knows the dynamic with your mom (who can be a handful), and was there for that breakup. Not only has he or she heard that crazy story you always tell but lived it with you in realtime.
That friend understands and navigates your quirks seamlessly and without explanation, knew your parent who has now passed away, and hands you the ketchup first because they know you love it.
He or she still sees you as a carefree 23-year-old bartender and not just a mom, and doesn’t think you look any different than you did in middle school because that’s the only you they know. They have experienced a version of you that you wish you still had a piece of, was with you for some of the happiest moments of your life—taking that trip, getting that positive pregnancy test, being offered that amazing job, the first person you called with life-altering news.
Growing up is beautiful. It’s inevitable. Sometimes it’s sad. Friend breakups are the worst kind of breakups, and I’ve had a few of those. I’m old enough now to have experienced the reality of some old friends passing away. What I wouldn’t give for one more laugh, one more long talk, one more mundane Sunday of working together at a bar—things that when you are young, you don’t realize will eventually end.
Maybe today, take five minutes or 50 and call that old friend. Send the text. Make the plan (and don’t cancel it). Let them know how glad you are to be their friend. Make sure they know that, to you, they are gold. You’ll never regret it.