During a spring cleaning fit last week, I discovered an old photograph of myself and two of my oldest friends. We were six and sported Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck outfits  – with hairstyles that would make a hairdresser cry.

That photograph got me thinking about all the crazy things I went through with my friends. As kids, we made up games and gave them names like Sally Broke Her Leg and Guess Guess. In our teens, we fell off staircase railings and drank coke through four straws. A few years on, we sat on the roofs of Wits buildings talking about life, love and everything. Looking back now, it seems a lifetime ago, but memories like that never fade.

Over time, though, those daily activities became smses, which turned into occasional emails, and they turned, eventually, into silence.

My mom always said you can choose your friends, but you alone choose how long they stay in your life.  Having let a dear friend of mine fade from my life completely recently, I now understand what she meant.

He was one of the friends who will forever be stuck in my memory. One of our biggest jokes was about his writing a book about his life at Wits. He wanted to dedicate it to our old history professor, who called all the girls in the class “Sir”.

He got me addicted to sport, however I supported Arsenal and he Manchester United. The benches outside the William Cullen library was where you could find us. If those benches could tell their stories they would fill the pages of two novels.

A silly misunderstanding between us led to a four year friendship ending.  He thought I was the kind of person who took friendship for granted; that I would attract fake friends who would tell me I looked  great even though I had a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

It’s sad because I did appreciate him. He was a one of those rare friends who provided a shoulder to cry on even when he needed one himself. The bond true friends share is something that develops over time but can be lost in the blink of an eye.

Life is difficult, but friends make it seem conquerable.  So cherish every hug, every joke and every afternoon spent sitting on a bench. As my mom would say, a man with two genuine friends is richer than a man with R10-million in the bank.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 22nd Edition, August 31