Losing a friend

I’m not quite sure how to begin. I lost a friend to ALS a few days ago. She was not my best friend or a relative. She was a mentor that I spent many summers with. She was my past. We knew each other before children, husband, or my move to the Adirondacks. She knew me before.

We reconnected a few years ago and kept in touch. She was that talkative, witty person who automatically put people at ease. It would not have mattered to her if I was a stranger, acquaintance, or best friend. She treated everyone the same, with kindness.

I’m not sure if I was in denial of her illness. Distance gave me the freedom to disconnect. I could get Twitter posts or Facebook messages. I couldn’t attend actual fundraisers, but I could reach out with a quick text or donate money through her site. I could be as social as I wanted without ever being part of her life.

This summer I was near her hometown and I had texted to see if she wanted to meet for lunch. She graciously declined. I made no effort to come to her. I didn’t have time. I guess I should write that I thought I had all the time in the world.

I did not hear about her passing through friends. I read it on Facebook. That is correct. I saw a link to a post that lead me to a site that informed me that she had passed on. I’m trying to think of anything more impersonal and cold while I sit here and ponder missed opportunities.

This woman wasn’t alone. She had an incredible support group. I know she valiantly fought this disease that first stole her voice.

I realize that friendships come and go. I realize that we all grow, mature, and move on. Some friendships stay forever; they stick like glue. They are the relationships that are a part of us. There are also friendships that cool over time. There are other people that perhaps we meet for a reason. Though our friendship distanced with time, I am still learning from her.

My advice today, if it is worth anything, is to reach out to your friends. Reach out to them beyond computers, the internet, and the latest gaming system. Shake someone’s hand or pick up the phone and hear an actual voice. Perhaps make that visit you have been meaning to even though you just don’t have the time.

Diane Chase is the author of the “Adirondack Family Activities” guidebook series, “Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.” For more family-friendly activities go to www.