Old friends, New friends... They all make life worth living.

     Ever meet someone and know instantly that you will become friends?  Ever had a friend that you haven't seen for a long time but when you finally get together you can pick up just where you left off?  Ever feel you are so lucky to have met some really wonderful friends that will care for you, support you and share in your life no matter what?  Throughout my lifetime I have had friends like that, people that instantly became a lasting part of who I am and how I live.
     One such friend, I will call her Sally, was my husband, Jim's, boss when we first moved to Minneapolis.  Jim would often come home from work with stories about this woman and the fun they had working together.  Finally, I met Sally and I felt an instant connection with her.  It was almost like I had known her for a long time.  Over the years, we got to know her well and she knew us.  When my life was drastically changed by my illness and AIDS diagnosis, Sally was there to offer her love and support.  When her life changed and she moved away, I wondered if we could still have a connection.  I should not have worried.  Even though miles separate us, we remain connected and I feel that our friendship has strengthened.  Sometimes it is almost like we are spiritually connected and I often feel her near me when she is hundreds of miles away.  We recently reunited and it seemed like we had never been apart.  Of course email, snail mail and Facebook help to keep us connected.
     Another dear friend, I'll call her Mindy, and I started working for the state at the same time.  We immediately became friends.  We seemed to share the same thoughts, the same outlooks.  We both loved nature and animals.  We came from different backgrounds but she was so much like the sister my age that I didn't have.  When I was in the hospital she visited and offered her love and support.  When I was home recovering, she kept me up to date on what was happening at work.  When I returned to work, she was there to support me and help me as best as she could.  And when Jim and I married in Vancouver, she baked a beautiful, huge and lavender colored wedding cake for our reception.  Mindy and I stay in touch by email and Facebook and when we do get together (not often enough) for lunch or a day of antique shopping, we are like kids, laughing and sharing life like long lost siblings. 
     I also have friends from my childhood that I am now in touch with.  Our lives went in totally different  directions and we lost touch for years but yet when we reconnected, we were able to pick up and our friendships remained strong.  It is amazing how joyful it is to reconnect with old friends.
     And now Jim and I have made new friends,  We have met some terrific people on our trips, people from all over the country and world.  Once again, when we meet these people, it is as if we have known them for a long time.  We try to be open and honest with our new friends from the beginning, letting them know about our relationship and about my AIDS diagnosis.  And I have been amazed, our honesty only seems to strengthen our new friendships and often we find that we have more in common than we could have imagined, even with the straight couples we have met.  And an added bonus, we are able to visit these new friends and get to know them even better.  As far as I am concerned, there is nothing better than sharing fun times with good friends.
     When I look at my life so far, I know that I have been so very lucky to have met many very wonderful and dear friends.  They are like an extended family, the kind of family who loves us and supports us no matter what.  And I know that I will continue make connections and friends as I travel through this life.  And perhaps in my next life, we will all meet again!

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