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Some of them were high school buddies, and we propped up each other during the unstable episodes of adolescence. We huddled and grumbled about teachers, lessons, requirements, and other things that we had thought were worth the grumble. We learned to navigate a good area of the city using public transport, discovered libraries, visited each other's homes, and enjoyed the semi-independent life.
Some of them, I lived with in the college dorms, and became my de facto sisters. We skipped most breakfasts to rush to morning classes, but over lunches and dinners that one could expect from dorm livin', we shared our thoughts, joys, anxieties, and plans for the future. Oh, we laughed about just anything that I can't even remember one specific laughable matter now. We cried, too -- over poor scores, nasty professors, and heartaches of all kinds. Once we decided to take a walk at dawn to catch the sunrise, and before we knew it, the sun was already high and hot; we totally missed the sunrise because we were too busy chatting and gossiping.
Some of them were colleagues in the workplace, where friendships are more cautious and calculating. But by then, maturity could separate chaff from grain, and today, I still keep my precious finds. Some are neighbors from the time when we moved every so often, and now when our place of residence has become a permanent datum. We share concerns about the community, our country, our children, and our aging selves. Occasionally, we attend living Rosaries and Masses, and have potluck dinners after.
Some of them, I have never - and most likely, will never - meet in person, but as kindred spirits know, thoughts, affection, and prayer can transcend physical presence, and that yes, grounded in kindness and the truth, a cyberspace community can thrive and edify countless lives.
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At midlife, my friends and I meet less frequently and laugh less, even as we connect and dote on each more meaningfully. We learn from each other how to grow old gracefully, how to take care of our midlifing bodies, and just in case we fail at that, how to dress up so that people won't notice. We are there for each other during milestones and when things are not so well in the family front. During the past few years, I observed that we are also there when one takes care of sick parents or buries them. Without consciously and deliberately doing it, we help each other come to terms with big words like legacy, mortality, and finiteness. And having tackled those, I would like to believe that we also help each other tackle a much bigger word -- eternity -- with the courage, calmness, and faith that we should face it.
At midlife, friends are like coffee in the morning -- refreshing but not jolting, just a wee bit probing, and always welcome.
At midlife, I only have gratitude for the friends who have generously allowed me to keep them in my life.