I believe that true friendship is something that presents itself rarely in a person’s life and should be cherished for the priceless gift that it is. I’m not talking about acquaintances; the people that we go to school with or work with, not that these people cannot become true friends. I’m talking about the people that are still your friends after graduation, after you move away, the kind of friends that you can see after five or ten years of absence and pick up the relationship as if you had seen them yesterday. In my life I have had the good fortune of being blessed with two such friends. I met Tom on the first day of school in the eighth grade. Both of us had recently moved to Billings Montana from different states and were new to the school. Tom and I sat next to each other in “New Student Orientation”, but didn’t really say much to each other. The next time we saw each other was at lunch and I guess we just ended up together because neither of us knew anyone else. For the next five years we were basically inseparable. We met Brian midway through that year and the three of us were always together. After high school graduation, Tom and Brian went to Missoula to attend the University of Montana. I, however, stayed in Billings and worked various jobs, trying to find my way in life, visiting them at college as often as I could. After graduating from college, Brian and Tom moved to Colorado, got married and started their lives. We stayed in fairly close contact and saw each other several times a year. As time went on, Brian moved to Anchorage Alaska, where he still lives with his wife and children. Tom divorced, remarried, and had a wonderful wife and family in Colorado. I stayed in contact with both of them intermittently over the years and visited them when I could. Things changed dramatically about four years ago when Tom died suddenly from a massive heart attack, he was 41 years old. Brian called on a Friday evening to tell me the sad news, by Tuesday; I was on a plane to Denver to attend Tom’s funeral, and then on to Billings to attend another service in his honor. This tragic event made me realize just how precious true friendships are and that we shouldn’t take them for granted. It is unfortunate that it takes a tragedy to make us realize how important our friends are in our lives. I continue to stay in contact with Brian, though not as much as I should. I am sure I will continue to meet and associate with many people over the rest of my life, but I am not so sure that I will ever again develop such a true friendship as I had with Tom, and continue to have with Brian.
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