A Hint of Spring

scenic view of landscape against sky

Photo by Nikolai Ulltang on Pexels.com

There was something on the air that early February day.  It was a whisper of Spring despite the day being buried in an enduring and harsh winter.  There was a gentle hint of a new beginning, of fresh life, of a healing heart choosing to look up to the sun and no longer remaining frozen like the snow that buried the world that cold, dead season.

For the first time in months she wore a smile that she discovered was genuine, having unknowingly set aside the painted mask of happiness needed for daily survival over the past months.  For the first time in years she laid down the smothering baggage of a broken friendship, a relationship that she had felt defined her for so long.  That broken friendship had become an identity she wore as a shield against life, as mourning clothes, as an epitaph on her heart.  Yet for a brief moment on that chilly, sunny day she saw a life beyond the past, she saw the possibility of tomorrow, she saw hope.  For a brief moment she thought of friendship and did not mourn.

The bright sun shone on a new day, a turned page in the book of life.  She knew, in the few simple moments that he was before her, that a new chapter had begun to be written in her life.  Like the sunflowers she planted each May, she saw the possibility of a friendship growing strong and blossoming quickly.  She saw all of this as he walked across the rocky parking lot, get into his truck, and drive away.  She took a deep breath, the first breath of newborn life, for that day felt like she was born again, born out of years of blind sadness and into possibility.

He was not the one who had broken her heart in the cobweb-covered past.  He was not the one who had stolen her voice, and cast a deep shadow over her spirit.  He was not the man who had shredded the very heart that she had given him.  This man was the one that unexpectedly reopened her eyes to the future.  He was the one who had reawakened her voice.

Over the following days and weeks, she reveled in her freshly reborn smile.  She sought out again the connection of friendship that she had, for so long, fearfully shied away from.  She opened her heart again after thinking for years that an open heart would never be possible again.  She opened he heart to him.  She fearlessly made herself vulnerable to this man who had brought the Spring back to her years of Winter.  Like a child jumping into a fresh rain puddle, she jumped into his life blindly with both feet.  In return, she was rewarded by the sight of him dancing with her in that puddle.

Their connection was immediate and strong.  They were both surprised at how comfortable their friendship felt, as safe and welcoming as a soft and well-worn blanket comforting a child in a storm.  Dark clouds would try to roll into her heart and convince her that he would break her heart just as it had happened in the long-gone dusty past.  She would mutter to herself that they could not remain friends.  But the fright she experienced in dark solitude was burned away by the sunshine he flooded her life with each day.

And it all began on the February day that whispered a secret on the breeze, a secret they would both quickly learn.  It all began the day that he fell into her life, and she leaped into his.  It all began the day that Spring was a hint in the chilly winter air.

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Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Heather L. Flood
07.05.2018

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Haunted Dreams (poem)

So long gone
So many yesterdays ago
Only to return in a flood
Leaving damage that only I’ll know
Where have you been hiding
How did you remain unseen
Why did you come back to haunt me
where I couldn’t escape you, in a dream
Why did you taunt me
with words I’ve longed to hear
Why did you get my hopes up
Why were you so sincere
Dream is not reality
But still my heart has held hope
Only to get slapped in the face
When the dream ends and you go
Your wound is still visible
The hurt still stings
Despite the passing of time
You’re not absent from my dreams
Only when my eyes are open
do I escape your memory
But I close my eyes, let down my guard
and you kill me again in my dreams

Heather L. Flood
06.08.17

The Path (poem)

I fell, one night,
into a simple dream
An unhindered path
blanketed in grass, pristine
A gentle breeze at my back
beneath a sky so clear
In the distance a bird
singing a melody, clear
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Step by step I, forward, moved
not knowing where or why
Maybe fate would put me
where it would decide
Scenes from my history
dotted the landscape in brief
but were left behind silently
with little pain or grief
The sun shone on my face
masking my destination from my eyes
as I continued fearlessly forward
A new future, in a dream, disguised
But then a second path converged
and on it a person came into sight
Where are they going on the path in my dream
Who am I dreaming of in the middle of the night
Path
Conversation started
Laughter joyously rang
And on that converged path
new friendship began that day
What began as a simple dream
on an unknown path, so new
Turned into the path, the moment,
that led my life to you
friend

Heather L. Flood
05.08.18

Changling (poem)

Changling, changling,
who are you
replacement for the past
the future gifted anew
What promise do you carry
What tomorrow do you hold
Are you someone different
than your predecessor of old
Changling, changling,
are you a threat
opening yourself so easily
to lonely brokenness you just met
Can you piece together the puzzle
of a shattered yesterday
though the mess is ages old
and still can’t find it’s way
Changling, changling,
how scary you seem
Your vulnerability and humility
are a reoccurring scene
Years passed, spent with someone like you
Someone with a connection that clicked
But the connection snapped too easily
Excruciating, deadly, and quick
Changling, changling,
trust can’t be given to you
Punishing you for history not yours
is the only way to be safe from you
You may be perfect
You may never cause a tear
but changling, changling,
I thought that about another for many years.

Heather L. Flood
05.02.18

Six and Two

Grief is a difficult experience to work through.  Everyone experiences grief differently.  When someone is working through grief we often like to jump in with words of advice that we hope will comfort the person.  “Don’t cry because you lost the person.  Smile that they were in your life to begin with.”  “Time will heal this hurt in your heart.”  “You’ll see them again one day.”  Blah, blah, blah!  Empty words that do not comfort the person feeling the hurt.  All those words do is inflate the person who says them, making them feel useful and important in a moment when there are no words that can help at all.

Some people work through their grief quickly.  Others bury their grief, never deal with it, and years later it comes back to smack them in the face like a brick wall.  Out of nowhere, when they least expect it, it all comes flooding in demanding to be dealt with in that moment.  The longer grief is delayed the more it grows and becomes more difficult to work through.

I am not writing this to lecture on the benefits of working through grief in a timely fashion.  How everyone deals with their moments of grief is completely up to them.  What I want to write about today is that I believe that my period of grief has finally come to an end.  It’s been almost two years.  That seems like a very long time, even to me, to mourn, but something very small slowed down my healing.  Hope.

Here’s my story . . .

Eight years ago I met a man who I came to think of as my best friend.  I can look back now and see that I inflated his importance in my life.  At the time though Brian quickly became my world.  I can name the exact moment that we became friends.  It was a Saturday afternoon at work.  He was on the air in one studio and I was on the air in another studio.  We were friends on Facebook and I had shared a post about Drum Corps International.  Brian came down the hall to my studio and asked, “you like DCI, too?”  That was the moment.  We became friends.

Over the next six years Brian and I shared our lives.  We talked about everything.  We laughed.  We cried.  We fought.  We had a period where our stubbornness kept us from speaking for four months.  I was there with him through his bouts of depression.  He was there when I got territorial and jealous, because I felt like nobody was worthy enough for him.  I went through a period where I felt like I had to protect him from everyone because everyone was bound to hurt him.  He was tender.  He was fragile.  He had unhealed wounds that needed to be nursed, and I was the only one that could nurse those wounds.  But truth was that he was not tender or fragile.  He did have wounds, but I was not the person to help him heal them.  Complete truth be told, I needed him to be broken because that was the foundation that our friendship was built on.  If he wasn’t broken then I had no place in his life and I couldn’t fathom that happening.

I molded the friendship into what I felt I needed to complete my life.  This was best seen when he would get a new girlfriend.  Competition!  Rather than trying to get along with his new girlfriend, I would turn into a raging ball of jealousy.  I would shut him out.  I would speak negatively of his girlfriends.  What I was trying to do was make him see that I was the only female that he needed in his life.  What I was actually doing was showing him that I was not a female that he needed in his life at all.  I can see that now.  I couldn’t see that at the time.

Three years ago my best friend found a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I had already found that relationship a few months earlier, and so when he got saved and baptized my be best friend became my brother.  This could not have made me happier.  Life was perfect in our friendship.  I had the privilege of watching him grow into a man of Christ.  He was starting to shed the demons that he had carried for so many years.  He was discovering his self-worth, and he was searching for his purpose on this earth.  His transformation was such a thing of beauty to watch that it increased my faith exponentially.  But a person can not serve two masters.

God brought a woman into Brian’s life that was obviously molded just for him.  Their romance was nothing short of whirlwind.  They married just a few months after they started dating.  Our friendship came to an end six months later.  Yes, I am guilty of encouraging Brian to follow where God was leading him, to marry the woman God put before him, and then turning on Brian and his new wife and trying to convince him that his wife was bat crap crazy.

My routine held up to the end . . . when Brian needed me I made sure I was there, but when Brian didn’t need me then I ran him down and ran down whomever it was that was in his life.

Two years ago Brian walked out of work, and he walked out of our friendship.  I took it hard, and I placed all the blame on him.  I was the victim and he was the piece of crap that threw me and our six-year friendship away like it was an empty burger wrapper.  I cried.  I yelled.  I poured out my anger and grief in my writing.  Much of that can be found in posts from the last two years.  In short, I mourned.  But my mourning was misdirected because I was placing all the blame on him, and I was mourning as if I had no part in how the end came.  Today, though, I can look back over the past eight years . . . six years of friendship, and two years since the end . . . and I can finally see why he left.  I can finally see what my part was, and I can finally see that I was the cause of the end I so desperately tried to avoid.

I say all of that to say this:  I have been given another chance.  Not with Brian, but with someone else.  A new person has been brought into my life and the connection was fast and strong.  Instant friendship from the day that we met.  It’s a bit scary to be starting this path all over again.  I know that I am over thinking everything about this friendship, overanalyzing, questioning, seeking affirmation, but I am so scared of messing up again, of messing up another friendship.  I don’t trust myself.  I don’t trust myself to not go bat crap crazy again.  I don’t trust myself to not become jealous again.  I don’t trust myself to turn on him and drive him away.  The only thing I can do is try and learn from my mistakes, the mistakes that I made with Brian, and then take everything one day at a time.  Everything in me is screaming to guard myself, not to jump in, to build a wall around my heart, to protect myself from getting hurt again.  But the truth is that Brian is not the one that hurt me.  I am the one that hurt me, and the only person I need protection from is myself.

I am no longer mourning a friendship that Brian ran out on, that Brian threw away.  I am no longer mourning something that he destroyed.  It took two years for me to finally see the truth behind that happened.  Now I am mourning the friendship that I brought to an end, and I am hoping from the ashes of that friendship that a new friendship can be built on the healed wounds that I inflicted on my own heart.

Until next time . . .

Solace searching

alone

How do I write about you when I’m not allowed to even say your name?

How can I pour out my heart in the only way I know how when I have to guard my heart against you?

How can I speak of your eyes or your voice, your smile or your laugh, when the joy they bring me has to be held as a secret?

How do I voice what my soul is feeling when I’m not supposed to feel this way?

How can I look at you, speak to you, when it’s you I need to be running from?

How can I reconcile what is a desire to the reality of life?

How do I let go of the dream when it was never mine to begin with?

How do I bridge the gap between what is and what could be?

How do I turn away when you unknowingly keep me turned toward you?

How do I live a life with you where you aren’t all that I see?

How do I end what should have never began?

Googling friendship in the middle of the night

I’m currently having another sleepless night.  You know the kind of night where you just lay in bed, flipping and turning, pulling the covers over you only to kick them back off.  Arm under the head.  One leg kicked out to the side.  On your back.  On your stomach.  Adjust the pillow.  Stick one foot out of the blankets.  Sleep is just not coming tonight.

So then your mind starts to just wander.  You think about things you need to do tomorrow, this weekend, next week, next month, next year.  You make your grocery list.  You think about which bills are going to be due soon.  Is it time to get the oil changed in your car?  What kind of flowers are you going to plant in your garden this year?  That cat video on Facebook was so funny.  Do you have clean socks for work tomorrow?  Froot Loops are the greatest breakfast cereal ever.  One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.  I do not eat green eggs and ham.  I do not eat them, Sam I am . . . damn you, Dr. Seuss!

green eggs one fish two fishThat is where I am right now.  I’m stuck in a cycle of nonsensical thoughts and Dr. Seuss ramblings.  Sleepless nights are so much fun!  I much prefer the crazy-ass dreams that come after watching a random movie or reading the book of Revelation in the Bible.

One thought popped into my head, and it wouldn’t pop back out.  Friendship.  Have you ever really given much thought to how friendship works.

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Off all the people you encounter in a day . . . at the gas station, at the grocery store, at the gym, at work, anywhere . . . why are we only friends with the select few people in our lives?  There are a few hundred people who go to my church.  I talk with many of them, but I am really and truly friends with only a handful of them.  Why?  What makes one person get deemed as STATUS:  ACQUAINTANCE ONLY!  Yet another person in the exact same social setting is suddenly your new bestie.

There is always that defining “me, too” moment in friendships.

“I hate carrots.”  “Me, too!”

“I think Elvis is the greatest musician to ever live.”  “Me, too!”

“I celebrate Pi Day every year.”  “Me, too!”

That opens the doorway to discussion about other things you have in common.  Before you know it, you and that person are like Siamese twins, connected by your snarky senses of humor.

But what about the people in your life that you really don’t have that much in common with.  That person who always disagrees with everything you say and think, but still you couldn’t imagine your life without their input?  Th two of you lacked that “me, too” moment, but you’re still friends.  Why?  What is the connection?  What drew your cerebellum to their cerebellum and made you friends?

I’ve had plenty of “me, too” friends.  Those are the easy friendships.  Tiffany, Jon, Tim, Brian, HollieJo . . . just to name a few.  They, and many other “me, too” friends have come through my life.  In most cases I don’t know how or even why we first spoke.  But whatever the reason, that first conversation obviously had a moment of fireworks and glitter and angels singing as one of us cried emphatically, “me, too.”

But then there are the non-me-too friends.  Bill, Bobby, John . . . the ones that have tested my patience, made me shake my head, argued with me, and broadened my life beyond my own little everyday world.  There was no fireworks, glitter, angels singing, or anything during the first conversation with any of those people.  There was a heavy sigh, possibly a collective groan, definitely a raised and defiant eyebrow.  There were heated discussions, and loud arguments.  There were toes stepped on and feelings hurt.  And yet we were friends.  Why?

Of all the people in the world, off all the people I see on a weekly or even daily basis, why am I friends with some people and not others.  In an effort to find out the answer to how friendship works I took my question to the one and only source that is the authority on EVERYTHING . . . Google!  On a side note:  googling how friendship works is about as useful as googling your symptoms when you feel ill.  I still don’t know how friendship works, but I’m pretty sure that I’m dying.

The Care and Maintenance of Friendship at psychcentral.com

How to Maintain a Friendship at wikihow.com

The 3 Requirements of All Healthy Friendships at huffingtonpost.com

What is Friendship? at people.howstuffworks.com

10 Ways to Make (and Keep) Friendships as an Adult at psychologytoday.com

Making Good Friends – Tips for Meeting People and Making Meaningful Connections at helpguide.org

And, of course, what would any google search be without an entry from everyone’s favorite user-edited online encyclopedia . . .

Friendship at Wikipedia

You know what I learned from all of these articles?

nothing

It will forever remain an unanswered question for the ages.  Sleep will continue to be elusive and I will continue to listen to my Elvis clock tick as I wonder how friendship really works.

Until next time . . .

I hate small talk

I came across this on Facebook today . . .

small talk

. . . and for a moment it made me think of the kind of relationships I have with the people in my life.  This one random picture made me realize that I really do hate small talk.  You know the kind of chit-chat that I’m talking about.  “How’s the weather?  How are things going at work?  Did you buy that new lawnmower you were talking about last week?  I like your new haircut.  Have you tried that new restaurant out by the mall yet?”  Blah, blah, blah!

These are the kinds of conversations that say absolutely nothing.  You might as well be standing in silence because these are not the kinds of conversations that you will remember in fifty years, in one year, or even tomorrow.

I read once that introverts hate small talk because it makes them uncomfortable.  I am not an introvert.  I wouldn’t classify myself as an extrovert either.  I don’t crave attention.  As a matter of fact, I find most busy social settings to be exhausting emotionally.  In those settings I feel like I have to be constantly “turned on,” and I can’t just sit back and enjoy the company of those around me.  I prefer smaller gatherings with just a few friends.  But that does not make me an introvert.

I have a friend that is an introvert, and when we first met trying to get him to talk was like pulling teeth.  He didn’t know me.  He was shy, and I can come off as a bit of a big personality.  I think I scared him at first.  But we slowly got to know each other, and conversations with him have been some of the best conversations I’ve ever had.  Once he started opening up we talked about everything, and that is how I got to know the shy, introverted man who held everyone else at arm’s length.

What makes you the you that you are right now?  What is your favorite color?  What did you want to be when you grew up?  What are your hopes and dreams?  What is a goal that you have for yourself?  What are your thoughts on cabbage (the antichrist of the vegetable world-yuck!)?

Some people would say that I am nosy.  Being nosy implies that I am digging for information that I can share with others about you in a fashion akin to gossip.  What I want is to not just see the top layer of your personality that you show to everyone.  I want to find out what lies on the deeper layers that you try to keep hidden, but that your body language and unconscious word usage allow to peek through.

A new co-worker (we’ll call him Fred) at the radio station recently took a request from a listener.  Fred didn’t know if we had that song in our database, so he said to the listener, “‘I’ll see if they have that song in the system.”  Why did Fred use the word “they” instead of “we.”  He wasn’t even aware that he had said “they” until I asked him if he still didn’t feel like part of the station family.  I still don’t think he does, but he spent a long time at his previous radio station, and it’s difficult to quickly feel like part of a new family.

I want to know the story behind the scars, physical and emotional.  I want to hear your favorite pet stories, most embarrassing moments, and who taught you to drive.  I want to know what makes you tick.  Small talk never gets to that depth of conversation, and thus it never allows the bonds of true friendship to form.

Life is too short to waste time with small talk and mindless chatter.  I like stories.  I like telling stories, and I like hearing stories.  I like learning about history, and how things came to be.  I like watching body language when someone speaks of certain moments in their life, because body language often speaks far louder than words.  I like the silence that comes after a deep conversation.  I like the moment of vulnerability that people allow themselves when they truly open up and put their soul on the line.  I like to see people raw and uncensored.  I like to see people without their mask.

People spend too much time being the person that they think everyone else wants to see, myself included.  I want to see, hear, and feel the real you.

Who are you for real?

Until next time . . .

365 Writing Prompts, by thinkingwritten.com – Day 010 – Friendship

The complete list of 365 writing prompts can be found at thinkwritten.com

Friendship . . . it’s a very broad word.  You have friends that are in our lives for only a short time.  You may even have friends that have been in your life for years and year, maybe even since childhood.  There are friends that only know a little about you, and there are friends that know everything about you.  No matter what through, with every friend that comes into your life, you give a little bit of yourself away.

The point of this writing prompt is to write about what it’s like to be friends with someone.  Yet, writing about friendship in such a vague fashion is bound to turn into a laundry list of attributes that I want in a friend . . . someone who laughs at the same things I do, that has a similar history to mine, that has the same beliefs as me, etc, etc, etc . . . Basically the generalized list of friend requirements would lead you to believe that I want to friends with only one person in my life . . . me.  But that is not the point of friendship, and friendship rarely works out to such exacting standards.

This is actually my second attempt at writing this post, because the first attempt was starting to turn into a laundry list of the friends in my life.  When I went back and read the years of friendships that had all been reduced into their own separate paragraphs it read much the same as a research paper minus the in-paper citations.  It was cold and perfunctory.  Those paragraphs lacked the laughter and tears that so often comes with friendship.  I don’t know if I can recreate the myriad of emotions and experiences that my friends have led me to experience, but hopefully I try to their relationships a little justice.

Some friends has a very positive influence on my life.  They came into my life, if only for a brief time, and helped me face fears, face reality, realize goals, and take on new challenges.  Some friends had a less than positive influence on my life, such as the friend that turned into an extramarital affair for two years.

Let me take this moment to stress though, that no friend should ever be able to push you into something you don’t want to do.  If they do pressure you into things that you don’t want to do then they are not your friend at all.  I take full responsibility for all the decisions I have made in my life.

I grew up with some friends, such as Molly, Tiffany, and Jill.  I matured with some friends, such as John, and Brian.  I have supported friends and been supported by friends.  I have laughed with friends, sometimes (the best times) to point of tears and aching bellies.  I have cried with friends in moments of sadness and loss.  I have given tough love to friends and been the recipient of tough love.  I have given my love and friendship easily, and received friendship and love easily.  I have also been stubborn and self-destructive, and been friends with people as stubborn and self-destructive as I can be.  I have leaned on friends to help me through the addictions of my loved ones, and been the one leaned on when a friend has been falling down.  I have faced fears with my friends, and suffered the loss of my friends.  I have had my heart broken by friends, and been stabbed in the back by my friends.  I have had friends become enemies, sometimes by my own actions, and sometimes by their actions.  And in turn, I have also had enemies become friends.

If you are my friend then I love you.  I love you with all of my heart, and hope for the same in return from you.  I will hold little back from you, and will do all I can to support you and encourage you.  I will value you, and recognize that you have been brought into my life for a reason, whether it’s been to change something in my life or to change something in yours.

I am thankful for every person that has come into my life, and I carry a little bit of each of them with me in my heart.  Each person that I have called friend has made me into the person I am today.

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Here is a sneak peek at the topic for day 011:  Dragon: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly? Use descriptive language.

Until next time . . .

Endings and Beginnings

October 21, 2017 . . . that was the last time I posted anything of substance.  I posted a random poem in January, but other than that, nothing since last October.  Maybe I’ve had nothing to say.  Maybe I’ve had too much to say.  Maybe I didn’t know how to say whatever it was that wanted to come out.  Who knows?  So let’s see what comes out of these fingers today . . .

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See that board above the keyboard?  Yes, I’m back at the radio station.  The same radio station that my last post wax poetic on having left.  I tried a life beyond radio for two weeks.  I couldn’t do it.  I spent two weeks working for a company that was screening potential customers during health care open enrollment.  People are crazy and mean sometimes.  I will never be mean to a customer service representative ever again.  In the end though, talking to people was too much for me and I went back to the safety of sitting in a room by myself and talking to a microphone.

Right now my heart is sad.  I am the kind of person that when I make a friend then I am in with my whole heart.  I have people in my life who are acquaintances.  We may laugh and joke and maybe even share a touching story with each other.  But the people with whom I develop a true friendship . . . I am all in.  My heart is on my sleeve with those people.  So when one of those people leaves my life then my heart breaks.  That is what I am dealing with right now.

I understand that not all people are meant to be in your life forever.  People come into your life for a season.  Maybe their season is meant to change your life, or maybe their season is so that you can change theirs.  But their departure at the end of their season still hurts.  I get invested in people.  I give them a part of myself, a part that I can’t ever get back.  Often times I am left asking myself why they left or examining my part of the friendship to see if I did something wrong.  Ultimately, though, I feel emptier.  There is a space in my heart that was once occupied by that person, and often times that space will never be filled back up again.

Life for me beyond those people could go one of two ways.  I could turn angry and bitter.  I could live a jaded life where I stop letting people into my heart and resign myself to loneliness as a form of protection.  Or I could live as I do now.  I choose to try to understand that those people did what they thought was best for them and their future.  I choose to hope that I had a positive impact on their life, and I choose to be thankful that they shared a small part of their life with me.

You see, bitterness and anger don’t fill the heart.  As a matter of fact, those things only harden the heart.  Being jaded is not a badge of honor.  It is a sign of weakness.  A person who lives a jaded life full of anger and bitterness is too scared and weak to take another chance on something or someone after they have been hurt.  A jaded person lives in fear of getting hurt again, so they wrap themselves in armor to keep everything out.  But armor doesn’t just keep out some people or experiences.  Armor keeps out ALL people and experiences.  A jaded person misses opportunities for joy and happiness, because armor is not a filter that keeps out the bad and lets in the good.  Armor is a wall that nothing can get through.  Nothing!

I know I sound like I am lecturing on how to be a healthy person.  Maybe I am lecturing.  Maybe there is a person reading this right now that needs to hear what I am saying.  Or maybe I need to hear what I am saying.  Maybe I need the reminder, because if you are honest with yourself then you will be able to admit that sometimes a person can forget what they know.

I can’t control what others do.  I can only control how I react to what they do.  My life is a little dimmer without the light that former friends once added to my life.  But maybe my life only has room for so many people.  Maybe people are removed from my life to make room for new people.  That doesn’t mean I will forget those people who helped create my past.  It just means that their chapter in the book of my life said its final words, and it’s time to start a new chapter.  Memories can take me back to those people as new words are written with a new cast of characters.

The loss of a friend takes a little bit of my heart, but I have a big heart with a lot of love to give and a lot of smiles to share.  I look forward to the next person that will come into my life that I will get to call “friend.”

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Until next time . . .