memory brushes the same years,
Silently sharing the same fears
Paul Simon, Old Friends
We talk a lot about illness now – ours, theirs, and others’. But while the subject has become a conversational staple, we refuse to allow it to dominate our evenings together. Whenever we become obsessed by the topic, one of us scolds the group gently with self-deprecating laughter and we move on to brighter topics.
Our meetings are still dominated by current events rather than memories, even though our decades-long friendship has produced an abundance of the latter that we often use to illustrate our assertions. And while we sometimes regret the loss of former cultural norms remembered by one or all, we retain enough stamina to embrace those of the present – even if our acceptance is usually somewhat reluctant and often accompanied by a head shake or two.
We have grown older and wiser together among the tears and laughter of entwined lives. Mutual friends and even family members have left us, but we move on together to create yet more pleasant memories. Walks, discussions, laughter, and good food dominate each meeting, our friendship becoming even more firm over each meal served with ample helpings of mutual love and respect.
All of our meetings begin and end with the same round of handshakes and hugs, the two events differentiated only by the fervency of our promises at each parting to get together again soon. None of us can imagine a time when we won’t meet again; the concept is simply unacceptable.