Lessons from an Adult Friendship: Remembering Lois

Friendships forged during
younger years, when the canvas of our life has only been lightly sketched upon,
are a cozier fit. We can weave strangers more tightly into the fabric of our
days before the layering on of commitment and responsibility hems us into
narrower pathways.

Friends who come to us in the
latter part of our lives arrive fully formed. They touch our lives only now and
then. When time permits. When calendars coincide. There’s less emotional
investment. Less intense bonding. More willingness to let a relationship play
out slowly over time.

We tend to be more risk-averse
as adults. Wary of what’s different or even mildly uncomfortable.

New friends might dance to a
drum-beat we cannot hear. Subscribe to a philosophy we can’t identify. They
could be a misfit within our familial universe. Our built world. The world
which we protect.

Or we can release our fears and
get lucky. Discover someone who paints so far outside the lines that their
differences enchant us. Draw us in with a siren sound difficult to resist.

You know the ones. We once
called them Bohemians. Hippies. Free-spirits.

When we brush up against them
now their brand of light can be less threatening. More enticing. We might be
provoked to slip without protest into the deep end of the friendship pool.
Anticipating a great journey.

Fiercely Protective and Loyal

Lois was an acquired taste.

At the outset, I was the
interloper who’d upset the rhythm of her solo friendship with my soon to be

I played the newcomer. Trying to
prove myself worthy of inclusion, while she remained coolly noncommittal.
Perhaps she was waiting to see if I’d make it to the finish line with her
beloved, long-term friend.

And over time, as she made her
evaluation, I witnessed her eccentricities play out in front of me. A showcase
of fascinating, sometimes contradictory, attributes.

Purple hair. Purple car.

Bald, in solidarity with women
undergoing cancer treatment.

The idle talk, rife with details
concerning people unknown to us. But people for whom she cared unreservedly.

The laugh. Deep and purposeful.
Causing her head to thrust backward from the sheer energy of it.

Order Meant Nothing

Lois was a hoarder with hundreds
of boxes strewn randomly about her house. Merchandise ordered by phone.
Merchandise ordered online. Stacks of delivered items. Mostly left unpacked. An
ocean of brown cartons set adrift on three thousand square feet of beige

One had to literally carve out
an area to walk. Push aside a box to sit. Force one’s self to want to be there
at all.

A house filled with things
seemingly not needed or used.

But only at first glance.

A ukulele. An electronic piano.
Side tables with built-in wireless speakers. A floor mat connected to a monitor
that offered instruction on tap dance. A magenta bean bag chair large enough to
sleep upon. A century-old ceramic clown collection gathering dust behind a
glass-doored cabinet.

Over the years, she’d talked
about each one of these prized possessions with an intoxicating enthusiasm.

More spirited than Auntie Mame.
More perplexed than the beguiling Aunt Gladys on television’s, Bewitched.
Magical. Endearing. Entirely benign. And without malice. Lois generously
allowed people to enter her menagerie as if to say: This is who I am. I
trust you will not judge me.

Then – Suddenly – None of It Mattered

Late one Sunday night, years
after Lois had moored herself to us as an intimate, cherished part of our
married life, an alarmed friend who’d been unable to reach her, called in a

Something was wrong.

After several texts and calls
without response, we drove the short distance to Lois’ house, using a key to
gain entrance after banging on the front door loudly to get her attention.

Moments later, what we had each
silently dreaded on the drive over, had become our new truth.

We found Lois face down on the
bathroom floor.

The paramedics had difficulty
moving a gurney through the front hallway. And an even harder time navigating
through her bedroom. The embodiments of her eccentricity now served as an
impediment to her health and safety.

Multiple brain aneurysms, we
were told. And, in less than a week, she was gone.

Gifts from My Adult Friendship with Lois

The lessons were immediate and

It’s not easier or harder to
make a friend later in life. It’s simply more purposeful.

The number of years that build a
friendship is less important than the content and integrity of those years.

The less judgment, the more

I could not have guessed at the
beginning of my time with Lois what deep imprint she would ultimately make on
my soul.

Fearless. Adventuresome.
Creative. Musical. She embodied the sensibility that good things came in small

A hoarder of things. Maybe. A
collector of friends. Definitely.

Her detachment from norms led us
to define her as an individual far from the mainstream. But Lois wasn’t a lost
star in the galaxy, she was the center of her own universe.

Which of
your friends do you identify as Bohemian? Why? Is this a new or old friendship?
Do you maintain deep friendships with people from your earlier years? How have
these friendships evolved over time? Please share with our community.

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