The passing of a relative made the thought of inward examination all too evident – funerals have a way of doing that. The words, “What if?” were a constant pry upon my mind for days.

“How old will I be when I go?” A probe of, “What will it be like when the end comes?” spun around in my head for a time. A short non-scientific survey conducted by self, in part out of curiosity, found that most people aren’t comfortable with talking about death. That would probably give creed to the notion that most live for the moment.

I watched and learned a great deal about life as visitors stood in that seemingly endless line of those wanting to pay their last respects to my departed loved one. From the beginning of the ceremony, till the end, the funeral parlor was a constant stir of remanent humanity. The emotions of each ran a gamut of intrigue, yet, I stood in wonder of something vastly more important. That being a concern of, “What will I have done with my life when the end comes? Will I have made a difference in the scheme of things, or will it be just a fade?”

The line was indeed steady, and the stories were plentiful. However, the majority sought only a view of the body before a quick departure of the facility. The experience led me to wonder about the true meaning of lasting friendship. A lot of people say they have friends, but, in reality, they have acquaintances – there’s a big difference between the two; far too often, they are mixed or confused.

I often state, “If you have one true friend in life … well … you’re rich.”  A true friend does things without thought of self.  It’s a different type of love by distinction, but I’m convinced it’s most certainly that.

First and foremost, your spouse should be considered your friend above all else. Then comes children and grandchildren in the order of things. Non-relatives should fall in there somewhere. But remember this: Life’s short, and friends aren’t easy to come by.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017. He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana. He can be reached at

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