Testament of Friendship

The past ripples round me. It is a time of reflection—one last look—before I let go. In reflection is the unchanged past but looking through the eyes of the present, I am changed.

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Sometimes, it feels like we are not remembering as fully as we might those loved ones who have died. It is the nature of life to evolve, one experience after another, changing us as we learn to live with the love from loss.

We cling to our memories. Our reluctance in letting go is as physical as it is emotional. It is a mind and body hold. Our cells store the emotion of a memory, often as pain. In letting go of the emotion, we release pain. The cell is changed.

Our body and mind are what we eat and how we meet each moment we live. In letting go, it is not that we love less but that we love completely.

My recent blog posts have been awash in memory. One post was about finding anger long forgotten; the other remembered the Zen master who taught me acceptance. That the anger has been denied longer than acceptance learned does not surprise me.

Both posts lead me to this one as this week marks one year that my beloved friend died of endometrial cancer. Our friendship spanned more than half a century. We grew up in the Rocky Mountains and eventually we both moved east, she to the north and I to the south.

I still think of her as frequently as I did when she was alive. Often, I have to remind myself there are no more conversations for us. I search my memory for the conversations we did have. They are a comfort and sometimes, I learn something new.

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I was not able to be at the celebration of her life service but her partner sent me a DVD of images and music that completely captures her life. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched it, especially in the early months.

Always, I stop the DVD at one particular image. It is a long quotation, in her handwriting, regarding friendship. It is the opening and ending sentences that stay with me. It opens as:

Never cast aside your friends if by any possibility you can retain them. We are the weakest of spendthrifts if we let one friend drop off through inattention, or let one push away another, or if we hold aloof from one for petty jealousy, or heedless slights or roughness….

This was not how she talked but it is how she lived. It took me a while to locate a source for the quote. The words have changed a bit over the centuries—language evolves with us–but the meaning is unchanged.

We accept our shortcomings and our strengths, knowing that sometimes one becomes the other. We lean less on distinctions and more on acceptance.

And while I never knew the quote before Maurya’s death, it is what I have now, a testament of friendship for the life I still have to live, as the closing line of the quote reminds me:

It is easy to lose a friend but a new one will not come for the calling nor make up for the old one.

(Mother’s Magazine)

I do not know that she ever lost a friend. And yes, the diversity of her friendships is a rich legacy. I am changed by her death but more so by the way she lived. I hold close this testament of friendship for the years left to me, for the life I have yet to know.

We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

Thich Nhat Hanh

In letting go, I find forever.

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22 thoughts on “Testament of Friendship

  1. Karen, this is such a wonderful and moving tribute to your friend and friendship. And to a philosophy of life that is so important, I think, for us all. You offer us lessons that we will do well to heed.

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  2. I so enjoy your ability to open up and share some of the most heartfelt content I’ve ever read. Your journey inspires me to do better, live in the now, and appreciate each day. You are a treasure, my friend. I can only imagine the special bond you shared with your beautiful friend. Best to you.

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    • Kind, kind words, Stephanie. Maurya inspired me for half of a century and yes, she still does. I, too, strive to do better for she loved me as I am. And that she could love each of her relationships in that way is the way of equanimity it seems to me. Thank you so much, Stephanie.
      Karen

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    • Yes!!! It is strange…a great word for it for it is like no other, at least for me. That it is happening to you with some frequency has to be difficult. Thank you, Tiramit.
      Karen

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  3. You are an amazing person Karen. Your feelings run deep and are full of sincerity. I am sorry for your loss. There are very few people in our life that really touch us like a close friend. I’ve lost a few. And I think God that we have capability of memory. They are a comfort in those moments when we miss them the most. Love that picture! You find the most beautiful pics whether here or on Facebook. Keep ’em coming! 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Karen. I think friendships like Maurya mean that we take a little bit of them into every relationship we have. That has been the case with me. I am so glad you enjoy the pictures. I often think they are same old, same old so it’s nice to know. As for Facebook, we can all thank Toni Bernhard. Such kind words, Karen. Thank you, again.
      Karen

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  4. Me again. I just reread Our World, Mary Oliver’s tribute to her partner, the photographer Molly Malone Cook. The After Note reads:
    How often now I just sit, with my
    elbows on the desk and my hands
    holding my face bold and upright,
    and stare into the past.

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  5. Your friend seems alive in your memory of her. And in your memory of her, you honor friends everywhere. Nice. And a reminder–I have some friends I need to make time to see!

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  6. I was going to say something about how I feel like my departed friends are always with me, but I read the “slowdancejournal” post above, and she said everything I was going to say…… but she said it so much articulately than I would have been able to do. Dang, she should have a blog of her own! 🙂

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  7. A beautiful post Karen. I find that I carry those who have gone on. Sometimes they seem particularly near. My father is the one seems to hover especially near, probably because I miss him the most. The veil between life and death seems almost transparent at times, the difference between the two not as sharp and absolute as it seemed when I was a kid. I love it here on this earth but a part of me looks forward to the journey and the next place I will call home.

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    • More and more I find myself looking to what comes next. I do have the sense, from time to time, that Maurya is near but as you say, it is when I am really missing her. I suspect I want her to be close. Thanks, Adrian.
      Karen

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