Realizing What’s Really Important

The other week was junk, people. For a few days the Earth kind of toppled around crazily (or was that me?)- and I lost my equilibrium. I mean, look at what was happening out in the big, confusing world:

* BP failed to stop the violent gush of oil that is threatening to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a dead zone. People are losing their faith as well as their livelihoods. As for the environment – don’t you want to cry when you think about it?

* Israel, Gaza, a flotilla of aid boats, a botched raid, nine dead

* Ed Case dropped out of the congressional race. Surprising. Even more surprising, he became Colleen Hanabusa’s new best friend, proving once again that politics makes for strange bedfel-lows.

* Al and Tipper Gore split up. I don’t even know what to say about that, except “What??? After 40 years???

But what really threw me off balance had nothing to do with the news. Those stories paled in comparison to what was going on in my real life. It was reality check time.

My two best friends were sick. Both had conditions serious enough to need surgery. And that shook me up because, you see, I have very few really close friends.

I don’t see that as a negative at all. Friends are precious. The good ones are rare. When it comes to friends, my philosophy has always been quality over quantity.

So this one-two punch made me pull up and say, “Whoa. This is scary.” For the first time ever, I thought: These women are important to me. What if they weren’t there anymore?

I’m not going to be morbid or dwell on worst-case scenarios because both these ladies are going to be fine. They’ll need a little TLC from all their friends, not just me, to get them back on their feet. So I’m cooking for them and buying cat food for their pets and visiting – a lot. Making time, where before there was none. Funny how we can always find time when it’s important to us.

And with at least one of these women, we’ve had to reconnect, because let’s face it: We’ve been lazy about maintaining our relationship. It happens. People grow apart for no other reason than they get busy and put off what isn’t right in front of them. We neglect our friends not because we don’t care about them, but because we take for granted that they’ll be there when we have time for them again. Trouble is, time may run out when you least expect it. To paraphrase the bumper sticker, “Stuff Happens.”

Wouldn’t it be a shame if we could no longer share a cup of coffee or a meal? What if one day I hit the speed dial button on my high-tech phone and she wasn’t there to take the call? I thought about the emptiness. It could happen.

Texting, by the way, doesn’t count. E-mail is marginal. We need real connection. I’m talking about physical contact, the kind where you can look your friend in the eye and give each other a hug.

If last week proved anything to me it’s that being lazy about friendships is not an option. Because guess what? We do not have all the time in the world.

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