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Last night I had an opportunity to speak with a great friend from my days as a career firefighter in Concord, N.H.

Alan went on to become the chief of department some years later and we’ve always tried to stay in contact. He had reached out to inform me a good friend of ours had passed over the weekend.

We spoke at length about those mutual friends with whom we served, and those who came along after my departure. We reminisced about old nicknames and some of the foolish things we did as young men.

We also spoke about those who’ve left us, and the poignant memories they instilled in our minds — as well as the laughs we all shared together. We reflected on how good life has been to us both, even through some of the tougher times like the loss of Al’s wonderful first wife Terry more than 20 years ago.

He was fortunate to find another wonderful gal in Alexa, with whom he now shares his life in Central Florida. They’ve both visited here in the past, and were amazed at the quality of life we all share here on this beautiful island.

Alexa would just sit in amazement as he and I would sit and tell stories of the past and of the tragedies we’d become part of because of the jobs we held. She too could relate because of her long career as a nurse, and how close she would become with patients.

As we recalled name after name, memories would come back like it was yesterday, even though I couldn’t remember what I had for lunch. Those names from 44 years ago just rolled off our tongues.

We also spoke of some of the mistakes we’d made in life; after all none of us are perfect. We would smile though, as the mistakes have been overshadowed by those positive things we’ve all been part of. Alan would remind me that no one goes through life without a few mistakes — it’s just natural to make them as part of the learning process.

Last night he made me promise to meet him during the first week of October in New Hampshire. He and Alexa will be headed to Ohio to meet with her family the middle of September and will then travel over to New Hampshire.

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There are a couple of old friends we need to catch up with before it’s too late, and some to whom we’ll make a private call just so they know they still have a place in our hearts.

I’m taking the time to write this today because many of us need to reconnect with what is important. It doesn’t have anything to do with material things, the size of the house we live in or the cars we drive. Instead it lies in the personal relationships we’ve established over the years. It lies in reconnecting with what made us the people we are today. A portion of that lies in those relationships established over all these years.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to have made great friends and have been on a wonderful journey in my personal and professional life. Even here over the last 24 years I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful people in some of the most unusual of places.

We all need to take more time to appreciate those around us and marvel at each of our own journeys, while always remembering to give back to the community we sometimes take for granted.

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