A Rekindled Friendship

“Psychological research from around the world shows that having social connections is one of the most reliable predictors of a long, healthy, and satisfying life.”

“A review of 38 studies found that adult friendships, especially high-quality ones that provide social support and companionship, significantly predict well-being and can protect against mental health issues such as depression and anxiety—and those benefits persist across the life span.” 

“You’ve got mail.” No kidding. And I’m not referring to the virtual type. It’s the handful I dutifully retrieve from my physical mailbox six days a week. Even with online banking and the near extinction of the handwritten letter, I still get lots of stuff, most of which goes from my fingertips to the recycle trash can, pronto! That said, on one otherwise unremarkable trek up the driveway to the mailbox, my eye was immediately drawn to a small envelope, addressed to me. It looked like a card and the handwriting was ever so vaguely familiar. Shifting this mysterious missive to the top of the ho-hum pile of stuff, I quickly went inside to open it. Turning it over, I immediately recognized the return address. No way! Where has “V” been all of these years and is it possible that she still lives there?

I couldn’t get that envelope ripped open fast enough. And at the same time, a small feeling of dread held me back. Something bad has happened; it must be. Why reach out after all of these years?

I could not have been more pleased to be so dead wrong. 

“Where have you been? I have been looking for you everywhere and should have sought you out on LinkedIn before I deleted my account. You have been on my mind for so long and I really want to reconnect.”

And so it went. I was thrilled that she had found me and equally eager to reconnect. We had met at our very first jobs after college and had quickly become fast friends. We shared an office – and the trials and tribulations of our first “professional” jobs for 13 months. We were each other’s lunch mate and, not long thereafter, each other’s bridesmaid. But things changed. We found other jobs and our lives went in different directions. For one thing, she promptly had children, and I never did.  The last time I saw “V” was in 1992, when she and her husband attended my second wedding. 

I had things to do, but instead, paused in the full emotion of the present to consider this gift of a letter which completely blindsided me. More than anything, I was struck by the feeling that “V was still V.” It came through in her heartfelt, unabashedly candid tone and the sincerity of her desire to rekindle our friendship. My heart was in charge of this one, so I called the number she had included in her letter. I caught “V” in the Sarasota airport, awaiting a flight back home to Connecticut. She had been visiting a friend who was coping with the illness of her husband and had gone to comfort her.

We talked non-stop, on top of one another – a feat my dear husband claims only women are capable of – until her row was called. I learned in those 67 minutes that while our lives were quite different, we were, in the most important ways, the same. She, with her heart on her sleeve, and disarmingly candid about everything, and I, pensive, thoughtful, and probing.

Most will say that during the COVID pandemic, humankind was painfully reminded of how sustained connection with those we love and care about is the true heartbeat of our days and essential to our well-being.  We know this to be true not because “the science” tells us so – although it does – but because we feel it in our lived experience, regardless of age or the passage of time.

I’ve been a bit giddy since “V” reached out to me. And this time, we will keep that flame of friendship alive and well in the present. Did someone say “Virtual Happy Hour”? It’s a great place to start!  


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