She brought with her a newspaper article and photograph about an old friend, someone we haven't seen in 30 years. I met "Jim" in my second year of university, in art school. He was a looker. And manners...the guy was pure, genuine charm. We had the same sense of humour and could fall down laughing on almost every occasion. We shared a love of fine art and Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoons. We became quite close, but never in a romantic sense. I had a steady guy at the time, and he loved the tall, slender types, something I have never, ever come close to being accused of. So we had a "safe" guy-gal friendship.
I don't remember when I introduced Cuz to Jim, but there was a definite attraction between them. (She takes after the other side of the family - the willowy ones.) We were visiting the gallery where he worked and she and I headed off to the ladies' room and spoke rather enthusiastically about how captivating Jim was. We were mighty red-faced when we came out and realized he had been waiting in the hallway and had heard everything we said. Gentleman that he was, he pretended he didn’t.
Cuz liked Jim, but I don't think anything too intimate developed between them. A kiss or two, but both instinctively knew that separate ways were inevitable. As time went by, we all lost touch. Jim ran the local art gallery, Cuz struck out to become a paper restorer and worked for a number of galleries across North America. I became an art and English teacher on the west coast. All of us in different cities....life goes on and the drift becomes sure.
And now the memories flood back as I look at a photo of a man I'd never recognize. We were astounded at how timeworn he appeared. When I asked my husband how old he thought the man in the photo looked, he guessed a full 20 years older than Jim is. Our friend looked gaunt and ill, white haired with sunken eyes. How could this be? Time had ravaged him. I wonder what life events had taken such a toll on this gentle man? Was he ill or deeply grieving? After a distance of 30 years, a phone call seems out of place, nosy, inappropriate. Cuz and I decide to just leave it be. But I will pray for my old friend. It is a blessing to know that Jesus sees all and can touch that heart, so distant from me. And I thank Him for the memories that still make me grin.