"Friends come and go/ like waves in the ocean.../ And as they go, they leave us/ memories and experiences to remind us/ all the bondings they've made.../ all the contributions they've done/ with all the walk, the rush, the run/, the snow, the rain, the sun.../ Leaving everything that they have done..." (excerpt from my poem Like Waves," included in the anthology Amidst the Splendor, published in The National Library of Poetry, Maryland, in 1996).
Like families, friends come in many forms and colors. They can be a support group when there's no one else to turn to.
Your mom or dad, brother or sister, your spouse, partner, your neighbor next door, classmates and Facebook friends---they all can be your friends.
Like my 20-month-old "chorkie" Simba, your pet dog or cat can also be your (loyal) friend.
If they're your friends, you're fortunate to have them in your life; they're fortunate because they have you, too.
Friends can be a source of joy and hope, love and inspiration. Your spouse can be your friend, because he or she is your nearest neighbor, next of kin and the love of your life.
Jesus can be your friend, who inspires you to live a decent, dignified life. If your friend is Jesus, you can't go/do wrong, because you do your best to follow His teachings and God's Good News.
We need friends to make us see who we are and what we're capable of; to affirm that we're good, loved and lovable; that we're beautiful, inside and out; that we're gifted and talented children of God.
We need friends to show us we are social beings capable of loving. In short, we live for one another. They need us; we need them. Much as we need a family, we need friends to complement and complete us.
"A friend in need is a friend in deed." There's that symbiotic relationship in this quote.
Being a friend is not easy. It's even harder to be a real, true, dependable and responsible friend.
If we don't have friends, we miss out the opportunity to experience human relationships, which are crucial to our social life.
We have varied definitions of what a friend is. To know its meaning, we have to know ourselves. Who are we? Are we able and capable to be called a friend?
We seem to drift away, with no one to cling to and share with our past, present and future, if we have no friends or family. If stranded somewhere, whom do we call, if or when our family is not around? If there's something bothering us, especially in matters of love, marriage, faith, economic or financial woes, that we cannot confide with our spouse or any member of our family, whom do we contact or call for advice or enlightenment?
Even in the middle of the night or wee hours and we're miles and miles away, who or what comes to mind to ring or text? Who's going to cheer us up or share a laugh when you feel alone, lonely, mad or sad?
A dear and true friend.
Our life is more awesome, enriching, enchanting, fascinating and lovely with friends. Losing them is hard to take, but we can always have and make friends.
-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Friday, January 20, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewshearld.com.