We Shouldn’t Let Distance Weaken Our Bonds with Loved Ones

Sean Baumstark avatar

by Sean Baumstark |

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I recently traveled to the bona fide destination wedding of some dear friends. The groom has had a significant and recognizable impact on my life so far. It so happens that the “recognizable” factor is what led to his first meeting with his now-wife, too.

You might be familiar with the groom, Kevin Schlanser, who is billed as co-director and cinematographer of the documentary “The Ataxian.” The film, which captures life with Friedreich’s ataxia, is centered around Race Across America, a bike race in which I competed with Team FARA in 2010.

I met Kevin because of his desire to produce a feature-length documentary around the epic event. His wife, Megan, met Kevin at the film’s premiere and has been its — and his — biggest supporter.

The wedding was held at the beautiful Doe Bay Resort & Retreat, located on Orcas Island, Washington. Guests reached the destination via a variety of transportation modes, including Uber, commercial flights, a three-hour shuttle bus ride, and a 40-minute water taxi adventure. Some arrived by seaplane. As I said, bona fide.

During the trip, I visited some longtime friends who live in Seattle. I don’t get to see these friends often, so spending a few hours with them was a rejuvenating and enriching experience for me. I click with them right away — no matter how many years fly by between visits, we seem to easily pick up where we left off.

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My travels got me thinking about the sayings that we use to mask the pain of distance. Phrases such as, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder,” and quotes like this one from Tennessee Williams: “Time is the longest distance between two places.” 

I know this may not be true for everyone, but I am confident that most of us probably have some loved ones, either friends or family members, who live far away, at a distance that requires some planning to bridge.

Over the years, I have enjoyed the privilege of friendships with people all over the world. My family is spread out across the United States. I’ve maintained special bonds from my college years, a one-year stint in Germany, and new connections made within this small rare disease family.

Whatever the connection that allows friendships to flourish and families to grow stronger, I believe that we often allow excuses to dismiss or diminish such bonds. More often than not, those excuses somehow fall back on distance or time as the reasons for deteriorating friendships and personal bonds.

We may never be able to reduce the distance between our loved ones and us, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work to strengthen those relationships. In this day and age, technology has eliminated so many barriers to verbal and visual communication. Taking the time to make a phone call, send a Polo, type a text, or even write a letter can reinforce our bonds.

I believe that our relationships make us better people and help to shape who we are. We are in control of our time and have plenty of tools to work around the barrier of distance.

Don’t let time or distance become excuses for a diminishing circle of loved ones. At the very least, send a text!


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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