When a person looks intently for a lengthy time, then turns away from the object which was viewed, the retina retains a facsimile of he image even after the object is gone from view. What's left is a memory of what was there and although the image will fade quickly from the retina and eventually from the mind's eye, it can be recalled, not to the retina, but to the mind! That's the same way friendships are!
As I sit here I recall past friendships, even those from long ago. My mind etches again an impression in my mind's eye of what was then when we were close. I'm able to smile when I view that mental image if the friendship never ended, but just evaporated into nothing because of divergent paths. I don't smile when friendships end in dissension. Those are the hard ones! You see the images imprinted are still indelibly etched in memories, but those memories cause confused thoughts. Why did the friendships end? What could I have done over? Were we truly friends? There are thousands of questions we ask ourselves about severed friendships. We never seem to have closure. When one recalls lasting friendships we smile at what our minds see! When we get a view, dimly lit of course, of friendships gone, we feel alone; so alone.
Sometimes those we no longer have are really missed. It seems that what they etched in our minds used up all the space for the imprints to be printed. Pessimistic people will never allow new friends to make new imprints because they're afraid that eventually all they will have are imprints on the mind and that any new friends will vanish. With few physical friends and many vague imprints of friends past, a person can feel alone, even in a crowd!
Feeling alone like that is certainly reason enough to keep the friends that one now has because even the best intentioned will allow the friendships to die when people are absent. It's next to impossible to remain close in absence! Value the friends you have! They are a blessing.
John 15:13 (ESV) "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
In this day few have to lay down their life for friends except in dire and unusual circumstances: A soldier may. A head of house may for the family. A organ donor may. However, most of us will never need to risk our lives for a friendship. However...
We all need to have friendships with a bond such as that! Although we'll never be called on to die for a friend, friends may be willing to die for another! It's similar to Abraham. He never actually sacrificed his son, but he was willing to do so to please the Lord. We may never have to die for a friend, but our close friendships honor God's will for us. He wants us to have deep friendships. God never wants us to be alone in a crowd. That type of "friendship" is shallow or worse yet, they are mere acquaintances. Without true friendships we feel so very alone; even in a crowd.
My children have certainly been my best friends. I have a love for them which is not only deep and genuine, but a love for their soul; their eternal well-being. For my children (friends), if necessary, I may be willing to lay down my life for them. That's the "greater love" spoken of in John 15:13. With time, that friendship is still there. It's "coined" into my mind, not merely imprinted because they are part of me. In their absence they aren't physically here, but that "coin" of them remains in my mind. With continued absence the coin may be reduced to an imprint and with even longer time, the mind needs to dust off the space where that imprint is hidden. Although my children are there and not gone, I'm left alone with my imprints. Even with my imprints, I long for physical contact.
Without the ability to be with my family in a physical sense, it has been expedient to add new friendships. I may see those friends every day. The image of them is still bright as a newly minted coin, and although I still love those who are mine, it's easier to mentally see those with whom I love on a regular basis. In short when friends and family cease to be around new friends create newer brighter imprints, although those images of those we love, but don't see, are still there. We rely on these new friends as a substitute for those friends missing in action!
With that, most of us don't want to leave friends. Friends who're there are much more "friendly" than those who are not there! Some prefer making new friends. Others prefer keeping the ones they have!
Friends should make an effort at always being friends. It may be by letter, card, telephone, email or messaging, but contact must be kept to keep love fresh in the minds of both parties in the friendship.
Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
What this says is "Don't spread the friendship too thinly. It takes much to be a good friend. However, develop friendships which are close; like a brother even (or sister of course!).