I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
On the face of this is a short uncontroversial statement. After all nobody ever states the reverse. But as with so many short statements the devil is in the detail.
A wiser man than me once wrote, “Nobody ever forgets the final hug, the final wave then off they go, round the corner and out of your life. You want to run after them but know you cannot." So it is with many friendships. Times change and people change with them.
I can remember people who had felt like close friends at the time who then made no effort to stay in touch once we no longer worked in the same college or school. I shared an office with SS for 10 years but once he had moved to Blackpool I never heard from him again. It was the same story with D. He told all his college friends about his new job and it was only after he had left that we discovered that everything he had told us, including his new address, was a lie.
I don’t know which is sadder. The friendship that ends with a clean break or the one that gradually peters out. I had known A for over 20 years. I had worked with her, I had been her line manager and we had shared all sorts of fairly sensitive family information. But once I retired we drifted apart both emotionally and geographically. Our long-running weekly exchange of emails soon became me writing weekly but her only replying perhaps twice a month and it became harder and harder for me to summon up the enthusiasm to write to her when I was getting so little feedback. In the end it was just a few lines scribbled on a Christmas card.
It takes two to maintain a friendship. One man’s friendship is another man’s casual acquaintance and that’s just the way it is.