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“A friend should always underestimate your virtues and an enemy overestimate your faults.” My best friend from childhood and I were once inseparable. From sleepovers and trips to Cedar Point to being a wingman at school dances and many big victories in CYO basketball, those years are defined by our friendship. I still look back on those days as some of the most enjoyable times of my life. Then we headed to high school and, for various reasons, began to go our separate ways. I continued with sports, he fell in with a different group of friends. Somewhere along the way, it became bitter and we weren’t just former best friends, we were enemies. We didn’t bother to speak to one another, but that didn’t stop us from our fair share of snarky comments about the other person. The high school years got the best of us both and before we knew it, those middle school days were a distant memory.
Many years later, my beloved grandfather became ill. He was the patriarch of our Italian family…kind of like The Godfather. Heck, his name actually was Vito! The final days at hospice were peaceful and allowed our family the time to prepare for losing him. We made funeral arrangements and publicized the calling hours, unsure what the attendance might be as my grandfather outlived most of his friends and family. I will never forget standing in the reception line and looking up at the doorway. In walked my best friend from childhood. He and my grandfather were very close, maybe closer than I was with grandpa. In an instant, a huge weight was seemingly lifted. I let go all of the ill will that had built up over the years. By the time he reached me, my emotions had moved me to tears. He was older, grayer…maybe I was too. We hugged, like brothers would, and exchanged pleasantries. He was the bigger man and I was sure to let him know I appreciated him taking that step and being there.
There’s something about funeral homes, right? The unexpected people who show up to pay their respects tend to lift you up and carry you through the difficulty of losing a loved one. This was never more true than on that day.
With the two of us having married, moved away and started families of our own, it’s never going to be the way it was. But it feels good to have my friend back in my life, even if it’s through an occasional email or sharing photos of the kids online. Gotta love Facebook! – Anonymous
Back during the summer entering my freshman year of college, I met a young lady named Lauren and we struck up a friendship. She was kind and beautiful. We were a couple of kids, sharing a moment in time. We attended a summer program, similar to a camp, where we got to know each other well, spending all of our down time together taking walks, going for ice cream and sharing deep conversations. It became clear that, for all intents and purposes, we were dating. She really liked me and I liked her too. As summer came to a close, and the new school year was upon us, so was an influx of new faces hailing from new places. Many of those faces were female and very attractive. I was young and dumb and just a few weeks into freshman year, I became less interested in spending time with my summer friend, and more interested in experiencing all that college had to offer (yes, including academics!). Without getting into details, I ended things with Lauren without much grace and she was hurt, if not heartbroken. I was disappointed in myself and felt terrible for her. From that day on, I rarely saw her, other than on occasion, in the parking lot, coming and going. We didn’t speak, she’d barely look at me. I carried with me the guilt of not handling things well and hurting another person who had cared about me. I carried that guilt for years.
Many years later, I had thankfully grown up and developed much more perspective on life, relationships, and conflict resolution. One day (a summer day, in fact), I found myself thinking about Lauren. Still holding those feelings inside, I decided to look her up. It sounds crazy, but I picked up the phone and called the number listed through a white pages search online. It was her parents’ number and I ended up speaking with her mother, someone I never met. After learning that Lauren was living on her own, as I expected she would be in her late 20’s, I felt like I needed to state my purpose. “I know this is really random,” I said. “But can you please give Lauren a message for me? Tell her Tony from freshman year of college called, and I’m sorry. She’ll know what I mean. I don’t expect anything in return, I just hope she’s doing well.” And that was the truth. No agenda, other than to right a wrong. The mother was taken aback but agreed to relay my message.
A few years later, I received a friend request on Facebook. It was from Lauren. She got my message and wanted to thank me. She, too, had grown up and moved on and, admitted, she held a grudge. But my act had changed all of that. She was now married with a baby, I was married and happy. To this day, we’re still friends who share a neat little story of forgiveness. – Anonymous