REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish Journal
The chapel at the funeral house was large enough; even so, it was packed to overflowing with standing room only. I came because I knew one or two members of the family a short time. I was impressed with the size of the crowd and wondered about the deceased. I was soon to find out. In eulogy after eulogy, I learned about the deceased’s kindness, openheartedness, exuberance for life, love of learning, and a long life of serving the community. I felt so sad for the family, but the more I heard, the more I felt sorry that I had not known this person.
As I drove home, a growing awareness dawned on me that this was the second funeral I went to with the same regret. The other one had been a friend of mine, but over the years, we got busy with our lives and went our separate ways. Only when she had died and it was too late did I realize that way too much time had escaped my awareness and I had lost the opportunity to rejoice in a friendship.
Because that’s what friendship really is: a rejoicing. A friend is a jewel, a precious thing that cannot be replaced by any amount of hard work on business, cleaning, cooking, or errands for the home, all of which are important. It doesn’t matter how important they are, they can’t be more significant than to take a few minutes to cherish the mind and heart of a friend.
Life, after all, becomes meaningless if we subtract from it the people in our lives. All the efforts we do in the physical realm are rather pointless if we cannot enrich ourselves through the people we know. Don’t get me wrong: I have my friends and my family; indeed, I am blessed with many of both and both are growing. But are they growing enough? Have I missed out on the chance to be enriched still further? The answer today, after this funeral, is “Yes.” Yes, with all the friends I have, my growing family, I have still missed out in this one instance.
How many more instances will there be? If every special friend is priceless, then with each missed opportunity, the loss is infinite.
Tired and busy as I might be, I obviously need to invite more guests, volunteer more for the community, and connect with one more person.