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“Maturity is the ability to think, speak and act your feelings within the bounds of dignity.” ~Samuel Ullman 

It is a blogger’s dream to have prepared pieces ready to go.

Every so often inspiration strikes, and I may write two or three blogs at a clip and get ahead.

Two weeks ago, I had a burst of productivity, and today is one of those wonderful times when I’ve got several in the can.

But I find that it would be inauthentic—a cheap and empty gesture—to punch ‘send’ on any of them, today, because yesterday I said a final farewell to a friend whose hand I held, metaphorically, for many years, including his final six-month dance with death.

I met Alan Mirabelli somewhere in the early 1990’s. I don’t remember the date, but I do remember the moment.

I was on stage in an Ottawa hotel ballroom, speaking to perhaps 100 people. I quoted some statistic regarding relationships (50% divorce rate), and this stranger in the crowd speaks up and corrects me.

“Maybe in the U.S.,” he bellowed, “but not here in Canada.”

Turns out, he knew whereof he was speaking being the co-executive director of the Vanier Institute of the Family which was instrumental in making family policy recommendations to the government.

And so began our friendship of 25 years.

Along the way, we supported each other through some dark times. One of his prompted his attendance at the Trust Program and our relationship blossomed from warm acquaintances into good friends. As a result of that program, he took a year-long sabbatical which re-ignited a love for and devotion to photography, and became a second act upon retirement.

Ours was a mature friendship forged from choice rather than a shared association or personal history.

It was one built on truth and a willingness to tell it; on a desire for inner peace that persisted on our individual paths; on a dedication to supporting each other no matter what, the kind of support that wasn’t all warm and fuzzy all the time because sometimes what we need most is a slap in the face: “Thanks, I needed that.”

It was a friendship born of, and built on, a bedrock of trust and acceptance. Time and distance between visits mattered not at all; there was always and only forward and onward each time we talked.

We grew together, apart.

It is a loss, yes, and of course I will miss him. But it is a mature loss: the tears I shed are ones of joy.

Yesterday, I was honoured and humbled to read his final words written before he died for those gathered at a celebration of his life, surrounded by people who loved and admired him. It was a beautiful memorial.

Today, I feel not sadness, but rather a humbling sense of gratitude that I should have been blessed to have had a friend like that.

And a reason, an opportunity, and a platform to write some final words for him.

Thank you, my friend.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” ~Thomas Aquinas

 

 

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