Friendships must be fueled by communication, but distance presents a challenge or obstacle and individuals react differently to that. For some, the friendship withers. For others, the only thing that separates friends in distance and that is resolved with phone calls, e-mails and letters. For some, "friendship" is a matter of convenient companionship and distance will impact that, either unilaterally or bilaterally.
Others form friendships or bond differently, permanently, because the friendship is solidly rooted in shared challenges or experiences. Many military veterans fall into the latter category, and lifetime friendships are formed. The perception or definition of friendship may not be equally shared, and there's a time to accept that, but I stress communication as a key element. Should repeated efforts to communicate be unrewarded by response, then perhaps it's time to accept that. If one party is willing to correspond and the other is not, the effort will be no more successful than a one-sided tennis match. For many, if the communication is maintained, the friendship will continue and develop. There are occasional disappointments, of course, but there are a few reassuring surprises as well.
I remain in contact with Marines I've known since Viet Nam, and we celebrate each other's life events and birthdays, share each others losses, just as we did years ago. We visit occasionally, and are welcomed in each other's homes. Friendships since made in my work environments are maintained by contact on FaceBook, by e-mails and letters.
My reasoning is simple; if we want the friendship to continue, we must remain a part of the present, or we will slip into the past. My circle of close friends is relatively small, though my spectrum of contacts is broad, and some of those friends are closer than brothers. We have chosen, for one reason or another, to value each other. A possible common denominator is a sense of humor but, when one is injured or hospitalized, others will converge or find a way to express support. Remember, if you would have a friend, you must BE a friend.