Having Friends in Low Places Has a Whole New Meaning

I got the word last night
in a note from an acquaintance from years ago
that one of our friends from those days so long ago
was gone.
As my collection of years grows so much larger
I find that happening more and more.
I get notes from old friends, text messages sometimes in the middle of the night,
emails, photos of obituaries that someone clipped*
and forwarded to those of us who still have days before us.
Inevitably, I think about old times.
I think about things we did together,
places we went, and usually,
at least with most of those who shared my younger years,
I think about the laughter and all the joys those memories bring.
When this phenomenon of sad messages first began,
many years ago, it often came with such sadness,
almost devastation for the loss.
Through the years the frequency has increased.
and I have become somewhat numb to the news.
These days it seems that almost every time I hear from one of my old friends,
it is with the word another one of us,
one of us that all ran around together, is gone.
It seems like there just isn’t enough time to adjust to each individual loss.
But those losses can defy the numbness and build in intensity,
feeding on each other and increasing the amount of emotion,
from the loss of the friends with whom I shared so much.
Those memories that seem like yesterday
instead of a lifetime ago.
I think of when we did get together in our later days
and talked of our younger years.
We relived our great adventures together
of when we won every battle, got in the last word in every war of wits,
defeated every enemy, and always, always won the girl.
In our retelling of those times, one thing was a constant.
All the tales, all the memories were seasoned with laughter.
All those times we had that no one would believe of us now.
So many years ago, it was like a lifetime
and for some it was.
I stand here in the morning sun of this beautiful fall day
with the memory of those old friends around me
and of the one who just joined them.
The number of all those old friends, now gone,
that shared so much with me, has grown huge.
It all gives a new meaning to the line about
having friends in low places.

Michael Mathews
November 13, 2020
Approximately 8 o’clock in the morning
Standing on the dock in front of my RV
Near a place where I hear rumors of home