Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Social Media (12/01/11)
TITLE: A Lost Friend
By Matthew Conner
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Jose was a great friend from my youth. A football teammate, a lunchroom entertainer, a beloved symbol of the carefree days of my youth has slipped from this world as unexpectedly and as sharply as one of his quick-witted jokes could ignite a dull room into hysterics.
One of the truths that accompany the passing of time is the fact that you lose touch with people you once couldn’t imagine living without. The pillars which once supported the temple of your perilous adolescent security fall one-by-one and what emerges from the rubble is an adult who has been weathered by the passing of time and worn by the loss of his innocence.
As life carried me 500 miles from my small rural home town I lost touch with all of my so-called friends from high school. Like most people, I’ve retained a meaningful relationship with only a precious few of the people who shaped my formative years. Some shaped me gently like a potter shapes a lump of clay while others forged my rough edges with the hammer of Thor. At 17 they all seemed so irreplaceable. I honestly believed myself on the night before we left for college when I swore that we’d always keep in touch.
Over a decade later, they’ve become nothing more than digital images on a social media site. Smiling back at me from some exotic local and surrounded by people I’ve never met, people who’ve replaced me as the people they can’t live without. They look like the friends I once knew but yet they feel like strangers. Their lives now run parallel to mine. Never intersecting we all charge down the road of careers, families, adventures, and misfortunes only stopping long enough to update our status so that those we left in the sunset of our youth know that we still exist and that we are doing well.
When I found out Jose was dead, my mind was submerged with memories. Torn between grief, shock, and disbelief I began to think about the friend whose physical stature was only dwarfed by the size of his heart and the amount of the joy he brought to everyone who knew him. All I wanted to do was to see Jose’s smile one more time. I wanted to be reminded of the friend I’d lost. I opened his profile page and saw him staring back at me and I realized that I’d lost Jose and most of the other friends in my life, a long time ago. They’ve slipped through my grasp like sand. The harder I tried to hold on to them the more rapidly they fled until I was left with a few grains of what used to be smashed into my red palm.
Scanning through the comments and posts on Jose’s wall I saw dozens of faces I used to know. The names are still the same but the lives they live are as foreign as the surface of a distant planet. They are now ghosts of my faded youth.
Online, Jose smiles at me. I don’t know how long that will last. All I have of Jose are the memories locked away in my brain. Will I be able to hold on to those memories or will they fall through my fingers like sand or fade away like a ghost in the morning light? I’m afraid I already know the answer.
I’ve lost too many people in my life, a few to death but most to the turning of the Earth and the passing of time. However, Jesus promised that the dead will rise. I must hold on to that truth. So until Christ returns I keep plowing ahead, stopping only momentarily to look and wave at those I’ve left behind. Honoring those who will forever be a part of my past and who will forever live in my heart. Good friends like Jose are a treasure. Tonight he dines with Christ and sings with the angels while I stare at his picture on a social media profile. I’m smiling because that’s what he always did to me…he made me laugh. But I’m also smiling because I know that I will hold on to his memory until Jesus returns and we make more.
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