Monday, August 2

Thank you | The weekly country

At first I thought it was a montage, one more of the internet lies, but it was true and it was published on June 3 in The Progress of Lugo. I’m talking about that famous obituary that went viral; After announcing the death of Mrs. XXX, he said: “Following my principles and my particular way of saying things, I order that: since my family has not been by blood for a long time, I impose my last will so that only my funeral, in the funeral home, church and cemetery, to the people I mention below ”. There he named 15 men and women, and added: “To the rest of the people who never cared during my life, I wish you to continue as far as you were.” Fifteen friends is a respectable number. How many could you name? If I do not give the name of the woman, who, of course, came in the obituary, it is because I do not want to participate in the public lynching of the relatives of the deceased without knowing what has happened. In any case it is a moving story and of course sad, because there has been a lot of pain there; of XXX, if the abandonment was real; and also of the relatives, if it was imaginary (sometimes we create our own hells). I prefer to think the best of that brave woman, capable of breaking all conventions. I prefer to believe that she died very alive, sheltered by the affection of her friends, reassured by her decision not to allow the presence of some guys who for her would only come to make out like hypocrites. What a piece of character Dona XXX had to be.

But what interests me most about the obituary is that recognition of the family, not of blood. Sometimes you are lucky (I am) and you have a deep and lasting love with your relatives; but friends are also your family, that of course. Some friends who, by the way, do not grow like mushrooms in a favorable forest, but you have to invest a lot of time in them: you have to cultivate and work them. Not all people are willing to do it, or they may not be able to, or they may not know. In a recent report by Irene Sierra in EL PAÍS I read that, according to a study by the international data analysis firm YouGov, 30% of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1995) say they feel lonely always or often. We are doing something very wrong when there are so many people in their prime who feel isolated.

Humans are social animals. Our lives are incomplete if we do not live them with others, but generally we are not aware of that need and what it entails. We still rely on the mirage of a society based on the traditional family, a model that actually no longer exists. I mean that there are people who believe that it is enough to have a partner and children to own your own herd, your refuge. But today couples break up more easily, or never get consolidated; and there are fewer and fewer children (according to the Spain 2050 strategic project, 25% of Spanish women born in 1975 could not have children). And the greater geographic mobility helps to separate you from your blood family. If you have wasted your time and have not been building your fraternal group of essential friends, you may indeed end up very lonely. I mean, very poor. Because one is rich in people, above all. The 15 people listed by XXX are an achievement and a luxury.

I always knew how to value the capital importance of friends. I have had some for 45 years, but there are also others that I met just months ago, which means that I continue to bet on that formidable adventure that consists of opening up to a person and giving them a place in your existence. Friends are a project under construction that can go into destruction if you don’t take good care of them. Aging also makes that difficult, like so many other things: it makes us lazier, more maniacal, less curious. It is a self-absorption that we must combat, because I do not know how one can survive without that agreement of acceptance and shelter that is friendship. No matter how much money you have, there is no greater misery than that of someone who has no one to call on a night of fear and sadness. In the darkest moments, my friends have turned on the light and literally given me life. I don’t want to wait for the obituary to thank you.

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