We experience the falling away of friends — not those claimed by death, but by circumstances, of those suffering disappointment in themselves or in us, or both, or some form of private, quietly held anxiety or embarrassment, or of those who have succumbed to weariness, habit, or boredom. Some we have known in the flesh, others through correspondence. And it seems all, whom we thought we understood so well, we understood only as well as we understand ourselves. Faith in words, in well-timed praise and sympathy, in shared joy and suffering — we wonder at their ebb and flow, and give thanks, even if we come to find they were therapy, or medicine we have given our sick selves, all the while having no real faith in faith itself. We experience their arrival, too, and those that never waver, and never go, even when they are alone themselves, and they are ourselves alone.
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