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I’m guessing Holly’s moving post on breaking up with a friend will strike a chord. There’s something about betrayal or abandonment in friendship that often feels harsher than that of a lover. Partly because (and pardon if I sound a wee bitter) we almost expect romantic partners to hurt us or be transient; friends are supposed to be for life. But recently one friend helped me see this loss differently when he passed along wisdom from a spiritual teacher: People are in our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

I love thinking about it that way. A “reason” would cover friends who introduce us to new people, activities, or ways of being and then, poof! are somehow out of our lives. “Season” relationships are around anywhere from a few months to several years or even decades; they get into our hearts and shape who we are, then slide, scrape, scramble, or vanish from our day-to-day. Lifetimers are just that–the ones we know till the very end–the guides, anchors, companions, and beloveds who would only miss being at our deathbed if we made it to theirs first.

The tricky thing, of course, is that we don’t have the completed screenplay–we can’t flip ahead to see if Jane will be there as the credits roll even though she’s been around since elementary school. That’s what makes friendship risky–and precious, not to put too cheesy a point on it. We just don’t know. Yet with the reason/season/lifetime frame, even when someone we thought was a lifer turns out to be a temp, we can see it for what it is–a person who gave us the gift of her or his presence for a time. An appropriate, necessary amount of time that, if all went well at least for a while, changed us, opened our perspective, somehow expanded or even healed our lives. So when we must let them go–whether it’s our choice or not–we can do it with a bit of grace and gratitude. You know?  

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