Farewell to a friend

You say that life changes you
shrugging with a ghost of a smile on your face
and so ends the chat as we begin talking
about the time when the seemingly invincible towers
of your mental strength tumbled into disarray
under the pressure of too many life events
leaving you feeling desolate and so lost

I struggle to understand your gratitude
until you explain that before, friend was a word
bandied about with abandon but without meaning
and that in your desolation came such aloneness
as some fell by the wayside or ran from the wreckage
dawning in you an awareness that friends don't abandon
but that the label is attached too readily at times

So it is that trust having been breached by many
must somehow be re-gained between those few left
and here your generosity of spirit shines through
as you willingly trust, talking of those difficult times
when what seemed like inadequate attempts to help
were valued despite any awkwardness or ineptitude
with hindsight you saw what we couldn't know

That having had your life rent apart completely
you could re-invent what it means to be you
I hesitate to tell you that I prefer the new version
the depth and openness that weren't there before
or rather were there but far below the surface
hidden beneath the ease of superficial chit chat
that no longer appeals and never did to me

It is on this journey that we became friends
leaving behind the trappings of social niceties
to talk of the harder things, the scary edges
that have us perilously close to tumbling down
ever steeper descents into the darkness of despair
of hearing voices not there, of seeing the invisible
and of not knowing how to speak of such things

Gradually though you do learn how to speak
and with it comes the relief of shared burdens
a knowledge that these can be temporary states
from which recovery is possible and even likely
that people change and not always for the worse
what seem right now like the whispers of insanity
might just be warning signs preceding the precipice

Friendship is funny sometimes though isn't it
found in the unlikeliest of places and times
enduring through the transition from old to new
only to be folded up like an old newspaper
and laid down on a park bench in the shade
to be glanced at only in passing by many
as you walk away onto a new path with new friends