No one warns you how important friends are going to be in your life. I’m not talking about friends of the road. I’m talking about friends who last a lifetime.
Parents are the first people you love in life. Whether they do it by design or accident, they prepare you for your future life ahead. When you leave home, no matter where you are, you always carry your mother and father in your heart. When you lose your mother and father, the pain, the loss, the tragedy of it all, leaves you broken until you can get your life back together. After your parents have gone it never feels quite the same. As the years roll on, all you are left with are the memories of faraway and long ago.
I came into a small circle of friends through a friend I met when I was 13 years old, swimming at Woollies Pool in Kalk Bay. I never knew that later in life, much later, I would become a friend of this young person’s tight circle of friends. Some time after leaving school, I met up with my friend’s friends in Johannesburg. I witnessed what was an incredible friendship between four young men who had grown up together on the dusty streets of Johannesburg where the old mine dumps bulge up from the ground. All these friends had risen above their circumstances, their environment and their falsely imagined limitations.
In this circle of friends was a young scientist and academic lecturer, a fireman who would eventually rise to a district level, a computer reseller and adventurer and another young man hard to describe because he did so many things but just let’s say he became a formidable entrepreneur, hocking his entire savings on a business idea that eventually reached heights ordinary people only dream of. The best way I could describe myself at the time, if descriptions of what we do rather than who we are matter, is to say that I was in “selling and marketing”.
Although there was no “leader”, there was a “convener”. He was the scientist. He kept alive the bonds of childhood, of young adulthood and manhood together by often arranging get-to-togethers so that we could share each other’s company. I must say that I always felt privileged that they had welcomed me into their inner circle with open arms and open hearts even though I had washed up like driftwood from the beaches of Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Long Beach, Kommetjie. The beauty about those get-to-gethers was that everyone was on equal terms. Fortunately, there were no dependencies, no business relationships – only friendship. And boy, did we have fun.
Now, with one member of that tiny circle of friends whose tightness and electrifying presence together, stronger than a Bowline on a bight knot made on the thickest hawser rope, cut down tragically in an air crash, one has to face unbearable loss. None of us were unaware that death is always running behind you at your left shoulder ever ready to grab you but nothing prepared this tightly-bound circle of friends for the loss of one of its dear members. Yet, it is something to value, to uphold, that one of the bonds of friendship of this tiny group may be broken by death but the friendships shared together has an eternal life of its own.