The People Who Have Mattered
“A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” – Richard Bach
Is there someone you wish you never lost touch with?
I was 7 years old when I moved to Canada. We lived in lower income neighbourhoods in Toronto, and moved frequently during the first few years.
From grades 3 to 5, I stayed in one apartment building, and this was the longest time I had been in one place. I still remember the worn down complexion of our building, the smells of ethnic cuisine varying with the part of the hallway you were in, and the school we went to; Crescent Town public school.
My best friend during that time was named Sharouk.
We weren’t the most popular kids, and were quite shy. But that didn’t mean we didn’t have our share of fun and trouble as kids. After all, two piece jogging suits were in fashion back then and they made us feel like super heroes!
I remember going over to each other’s apartment to play video games, tobogganing in winters down the hill beside our school, having home run derbies on our baseball diamond, and talking about the pretty girls in class.
I remember going to the apartment complex’s recreation centre to play basketball and floor hockey, taking swimming lessons, and participating in after-school programs.
I remember going to the neighbourhood convenience store to pool together our money in order to one day buy a bag of chips which had a free basketball player card in it. We even found a bag that had Michael Jordan’s card in it, and we hid it at the back of the chip bag pile so that no one else got it.
Half way through grade 5, my parents moved to Markham, where my family has been ever since.
When I left, I remember saying bye to Sharouk. We didn’t have social media or email addresses back then, so it was sad to think we would never see each other again. And we didn’t see each other again for a long time.
To my surprise, two weeks ago, I got a friend request on Facebook from Sharouk. Last week, we met up for coffee.
As I was heading out to the coffee shop, I wasn’t sure what we would talk about, if we would have anything in common still, or whether he remembered our good times. It turns out that his memory is even better than mine, and we spent the evening reminiscing and recollecting many stories from our time together as kids; from the McDonald’s family pizza nights we frequented often, to the teachers we had, and the school play we were in.
It was so great to see him.
But, Sharouk also broke the sad news to me that both his parents had passed away. First his dad when he was 19 years old, and then his mother last year to cancer.
Sharouk told me the story of his mother’s sudden onset of cancer, how it spread so quickly, her becoming progressively frail and weak over the course of a year, losing her bodies functionality, and eventually passing away in front of him. He told me how his sister is living abroad, and how he is completely alone now in the house that his family owned. He told me to feel happy that I still have parents.
The story had me in tears in public.
I told him that I wish I had been there to support him him through his painful time, and take care of his mom the way she had taken care of me when I was younger. I told him how proud I am of the man he has become, and how proud his parents would be. I told him the stories of my own experiences and loss of loved ones to cancer, and tried to show compassion for his pain.
He told me he was glad that we reconnected because he needs a friend’s support the most right now. I’m happy Sharouk found me on Facebook and that I showed up for him.
This experience taught me the value of reconnecting with people who have been an important part of my journey; to thank them for the impact they have left on my life, meet them to catch up, or perhaps let them in again. Sharouk has also reminded me that many people have mattered to me, and has made me wonder how they are, take steps to reconnect, and realize that perhaps they could be going through something difficult that I would want to support them with.
Most of all, Sharouk’s loss of his parents has reinforced my belief that life is too short. There is no rational reasoning behind which of life’s challenges happen to who, and it often seems unfair. But I know that what is in my control is my ability to make the most of this life, love deeper, hug longer, practice gratitude, and treasure the people who have mattered to me.
Who has mattered to your life’s journey that you could reconnect with?