If all my friends were to jump off a bridge, I wouldn't jump with them, I'd be at the bottom to catch them.
-- Source Unknown
Sometimes, no matter our best intentions, we cannot make the catch. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try anyway. And if we do fail to make that catch, we should still be there to pick up the pieces.
Remember this little nugget?
"If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were"
I call bullshit all over that. That isn't to say that if someone needs time and space we shouldn't give it to them. I've had to do that more than once. But I think too often these days people are subscribing to the notion that people come into our lives and leave whenever they're done being "useful" to us. I'm not talking about useful in the, 'Hey, can you help me move this sofa to the curb' kind of way. I'm talking about this idea that people move into our lives, enrich them, we learn things about the world and ourselves, and when the "teaching moment" is over they leave. Ok, I'm sure that the other person is doing their share of learning as well. And maybe I'm misunderstanding the notion. I'm not speaking of acquaintances here. I'm talking about those folks we've befriended deeply.
There are, granted, people who do move into and out of our lives briefly, and they can make a world of difference. Circumstances can sometimes intervene to make maintaining a relationship difficult. And many times people move in different directions and on different paths. All valid. My concern is over people who take this to the extreme of "out of sight, out of mind." I've grown apart from many friends over the years, and I sure as hell haven't been the best friend a person can be. But I hold them in my hearts and think of them quite often. If any of them needed anything that I have the power to provide, even if it's just an ear to hear them, I'm available. In my 20s I was a self absorbed twat, and I let a lot of people slip away from me because I didn't yet understand how to perform this delicate trick. All I can say is, Thank Goodness for Facebook.
Granted, there are times when people can be toxic to each other, and in those cases yes, you need to separate yourselves post haste. And we've all experienced those folks who are essentially emotional vampires who suck us dry before moving onto the next victim. In the best of friendships though, things will not always be rosy. But petty arguments can happen without destroying a friendship. Disagreements happen. The rule here is to never, ever say something that can't be taken back. Think before you open your mouth and shove your size 10 down your gullet.
If you care, really really care, do everything you can to hold onto those you love. Yes, that's selfish too, if you simply look at that statement. I'll elaborate. Give them what they need from you without enabling bullshit behavior. What they need from you might not be what they actually want. If that means taking them aside when they're being the biggest bonehead on the planet and bricking them upside the head with reason, do it. If the planets have decreed that you will be moving in different directions, give them a holler now and then to find out how that path is working out for them. I do not believe in my heart that the teaching moments ever end. More than once in my life after I've re-established contact with someone they're given me news that I've greeted with essentially, "Holy shit. Really??" and it's been an eye opening experience. I've discovered many times in life that divergent paths often simply detour right back again. Be open to that. Greet each other again with joy and laughter and bone crushing hugs. Show your love for your friends as often as you can. Be kind to each other. Do not expect things they are unable to provide. Get to know them well. Ask them how they're doing as often as possible before telling them how you are. Listen with your whole heart. Minimize distractions when the shit hits the fan and they really need you. Be as honest as Abe. In return, do not ask any questions for which you do not want to hear an honest answer. Do not expect more of them than you expect of yourself.
Never require that they will catch you or pick up the pieces, but if they do, love them and be grateful.