One Person Doesn't Really "Complete You" Or Your Marriage

After her husband's cancer diagnosis, one writer reflects on the importance of her longtime friends.

friends on beach

I was driving along a narrow, two-lane country road when my husband took a call on his cell phone.

"We're on our way to Jack's. Yea, the last time."

The last time. Those three words caused instant tears to fill my eyes.

Terry and I were on our way to see Jack and Kathy, friends of ours for over 35 years. Jack was in his final stages of cancer; he had courageously battled the disease for six years. When I talked to Kathy earlier that morning, she said, "Come." I knew time was of eminence.  4 Facts About Breast Cancer That Will Surprise You


As we travelled the two hours from our home to theirs, memories of our friendship played out in my mind like little vignettes. There was Jack, a fellow college student, fixing the door to our apartment. Jack and Terry meeting in class and becoming fast friends. Going to Jack and Kathy's home for dinner and meeting their two little boys, Tim and Kelby. Two more would be added to their fold, Joel and Micah, before Jack graduated from the university with a ministerial degree. As the years passed, we would occasionally have a get-together.

Around ten years ago, when Jack retired from the ministry, he started to do carpentry work for my husband in his home building and remodeling business. Jack was a master craftsman. In our newest home, Jack fashioned an entertainment center after the one I saw in Larry David's home in his show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Flipping through channels one evening, I spotted the built-in center, recorded the program, and later showed it to Jack. From there he produced a sketch and then built a gorgeous center to house our TV and sound system, along with bookshelves to hold favored photographs and books. During this time of working for my husband, a mass was discovered on one of Jack's kidneys. His kidney was removed, but the cancer kept spreading despite repeated bouts of chemotherapy. 10 Brutal Signs He Just Wants To Be Friends


When my husband was diagnosed with a malignant adrenal mass a few months ago, Jack and Kathy were there with ready ears and plenty of prayers. Despite weakness in his legs and ongoing pain, Jack insisted on visiting Terry in the hospital a few days after his surgery. Three weeks later, while my husband was still in a great deal of discomfort, he insisted I drive him to see Jack, his dear friend, knowing it would be the last time those two would be together on this earth. I cannot begin to explain how precious those few hours were with Jack and Kathy.

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During my husband's recent hospitalization, dear friends from days gone by contacted us. Words of love and support and prayers kept us afloat during those difficult days. Terry and I were so moved by the outpouring of affection and concern by longtime friends, and we were reminded how meaningful those friendships have been to us over the years.

The New York Times recently featured a piece by Alex Williams, titled "Friends of a Certain Age: Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?" In the article Williams laments the idea that it is difficult to develop meaningful friendships as we age due to time constraints, work and family obligations, and the inability to connect emotionally to people after a certain age. He believes we engage in our most significant relationships before the age of 30. Based upon the experiences of our own lives, my husband and I tend to agree.


The couples we met while in college and in the young-marrieds' group at church are still the friends we hold most dear to our hearts. We were all on the same playing field, so to speak: establishing our homes and careers, having babies, most of us struggling financially. We found joys in the simple things of life: cookouts, camping, playing games, watching our little ones grow into another generation of friendships. Why Some Christian Men Won't Date Women They Meet At Church

My husband and I have been married 36 years. Most of our closest friends have been married as long or longer, and those ties are securely locked in place. I truly believe one reason for the longevity of each of our marriages is due to our friendships. If I could offer any advice to young couples today it would be to find friends like we are blessed to have. Find friends who share or honor your faith. Find friends who are committed to their marriages and families. Find friends who are brave enough to keep you accountable. Find friends who accept you, believe in you, and build you up. Find friends who want to have fun.

Here's to you, the dear friends of our youth (Jack and Kathy; Warren and Beth; Dave and Toni; Terry and Renee; Ray and Brenda; John and Sandy). I say thank you. You all have immeasurably enriched our lives with your love, your wisdom, and your enduring belief in us. We hold so many precious memories in our hearts.

How we treasure those times spent together: Going to Chi-Chi's Mexican restaurant every Sunday after church for several years with Dave, Toni, Terry, Renee and all of our elementary-aged children. How we ate and laughed and celebrated birthdays. The best part was that the kids ate free. There was setting up camp in the rain with Warren and Beth and all of our kids at the Jellystone Camp. We will never forget snowmobiling in a blizzard with John and Sandy, when John practically crawled into the dryer at the restaurant to unthaw himself. There were the simple times of sharing coffee at the kitchen table with Ray and Brenda at their country home. Are You Carrying Your Weight In Your Friendships?


We shared a lot of laughs and many a tear. My dear girlfriends comforted me in the loss of my mother. The guys helped each other with home-repairs. When sickness was in one of our homes, another would bring a roast for dinner.

We are all empty-nesters now, and it is still difficult to arrange our schedules to visit together. Many of our kids live out-of-town, so when we take to the road, it's to visit them. But my husband's situation, and losing Jack, has really spurred us to make a point to see our friends. This past weekend, we were able to merge together in a nearby city with Dave and Toni, and Terry and Renee. We had not seen them in three years. Over the course of two days, we ate at three restaurants and reminisced favored memories. We all vowed not to let a great amount of time to pass before our next gathering.

Two weeks after we saw Jack, we attended his funeral. Yes, it was a time of mourning, but also a time of celebration. As the pictures on the overhead screen of Jack and Kathy's years together passed before all that was gathered on that day, Terry and I were reminded of the joy this couple brought into our lives, and into the lives of others. 12 Types Of Friends You Should Break Up With Immediately


A Bible verse that characterized Jack and that was part of his memorial service is Matthew 5:16: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

We carry a bit of Jack's light in our hearts today. That's what friends do.

Read the first part of Luann's story here.