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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

Friends are always with you, come rain or come shine

Sunrise moving across the sky. (Courtesy Photo)

“The days may be cloudy or sunny

We’re in or we’re out of the money

But I’m with you always

I’m with you rain or shine”

—Ray Charles

“Come Rain Or Come Shine”

I was recently reminded again of the value of longstanding friendship.

It’s not that you have to see people every day, or constantly be in contact with them—although those kinds of friendships are seen, rightfully, as the gold standard. Since the past year or so of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made it harder to be together in person, and since it appears the restrictions that separated us are increasingly being lifted, it seemed like an opportune week to write about friendships that last through time.

Phone calls, texts, FaceTime, Zoom calls, even letters all help keep a person in contact with another person.

Sitting with a friend or friends, in person, is still the best medicine. It beats all the above methods, and it’s not even a close race.

No technology has—or ever will—replace the feeling that comes with being with the people you hold closest to you. It’s true about family. It’s true about friends. Sometimes, if you’re particularly fortunate, your family members are friends as well.

That kind of closeness can’t be beaten by anything.

Increasingly, as I move into my late 40s, I look at friends I’ve had for decades and ones I’ve made in recent years as people I can count on in any kind of situation, good or bad. They know they can count on me in the same way.

Friendships like these push against divisions and create tight bonds between people. If more people saw each other as friends, we’d have a lot less problems. Who would attack a friend?

There are people you meet at school, at work, or socially who you just click with, and then they become something more than someone you know. As years go forward you may have one, or a few, that hit all those milestones with you: graduations, weddings, baptisms, deaths and all the bumps and victories along the way that shape us all.

It’s better to go through life with people by your side. We all need help sometimes, and we all need to help others. It’s how we’re connected to each other: thousands of conversations, dinners, drinks, beach trips, sports games and a million other moments, good and bad.

It’s sharing these experiences with friends that deepens and enriches life. When you look around a table and see faces you’ve known for decades, smiling and laughing and enjoying each other’s company, it lifts you up in a way nothing else can. It’s not just that you have a shared history. It’s that you’re continuing to add to that history in the present day.

What a gift it is to have the people who “knew you when” also know you now.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about these themes 170 years ago in his essay “Friendship,” which has a line in it I’ve carried with me for almost as long as some of my longest friendships.

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere.”

Truth is an asset in all relationships and it leads to something that is deeply connected to it: trust. When you have friends that you can trust, there is never any doubt that you will not be alone in life.

Or, as Ray Charles would put it:

“The days may be cloudy or sunny

We’re in or we’re out of the money

But I’m with you always

I’m with you rain or shine”

Gabe Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.


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