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Many years ago, I became estranged from some of my high school friends. We went through college together, but then our lives took us in different directions. About six years ago, Facebook came on the scene and I began to search for a few friends I had often wondered about. Many years had passed and I was curious as to what had become of their lives.

I was successful in finding one special friend, Sue. She had moved around quite a bit after marrying her high school sweetheart, who had joined the Army. They had twin girls who were born prematurely with cerebral palsy. Sue had moved to Florida many years ago, become a single mother and spent her life advocating for those special, bright girls.

When I finally found her on Facebook, she had already been diagnosed with cancer. But for six special years, we were able to rekindle our friendship and reminisce about our lives.

After a long battle with cancer, she passed away this past year. She left a legacy that will live on – her battle to advocate for her girls, who are now in their 30s. Many people post silly things on Facebook and use it just for fun. It also has become a forum for many worthwhile causes, fundraisers and a voice to bring awareness to the world about important happenings that might otherwise never be known.

I am so grateful that I was able to reconnect with my dear friend. That friendship now continues with her girls, who are a part of her. At times, I feel that technology has gotten out of hand and is not always used for the better. But in this case, it brought me back into contact with people I was unable to connect with in person. Facebook helped me to share my life once again with a friend in need.

True friends are a rare find. They are people you can just pick up conversation as if no time has passed. I have a group of friends from childhood I am still in contact with. Each one is dear to me, and would lend a hand without giving it a second thought – just as I would for them. Really close friends are hard to find. They stick with you through any circumstance. Many people go through life collecting acquaintances, who come and go. But if you have made a few special friends, then you have accomplished more than many.

It seems we are so busy living our lives every day and reaching for that brass ring that we have lost sight of the things that make our lives full and worth living. I feel so lucky that I was able to share some very important time with Sue, and if it were not for Facebook that never would have happened.

Although today’s technology has helped us in many ways, I feel it has not been an asset to making new friends. When we go to public places, all we see are people checking their cellphones, surfing the Internet or playing computer games. There is less conversation amongst strangers, as people become more isolated and keep to themselves. As with any technology, there is a time and place for everything. Let’s not sell human contact short.

Instead of using the Internet to grandstand, try using it to further worthwhile causes and rekindle friendships from long ago. You might be surprised how much your life will be enriched. Try paying it forward and getting involved. You will reap more benefits than you can imagine.

Judith Whitehead lives in East Amherst.