Rubbing my forehead in an absolute state of confusion, I looked at the pile of miscellaneous screws, washers and black plastic “thingies“ and mumbled to myself, “Uh oh! Where the hell do these piece go?” Once again, the sick feeling that I messed up washed over me.

“Sit in the chair,” I encouraged my girlfriend, Mondana. “Let’s see if it actually swivels.”

“I’m not sitting in that thing,” she replied, quickly backing away. “What if it doesn’t hold me?”

Studying the step-by-step pictures in the how-to manual, everything looked as it should. The back and arm rests were in the right place. There were four legs on all chairs pointing in the right direction and the table hardly wiggled, but the question remained. Would it stand up to the real test?

“Don’t be such a chicken,” I said as I pushed her toward what appeared to be a well assembled finished product . “I did all the hard work. The least you can do is be the tester.”

Moving out of the hot afternoon sun, on the deck of my home in the Tahoe mountains, the two of us surveyed the scene. It had been just two hours earlier that Home Depot delivered three enormous boxes with my new patio furniture. Cheerfully as the delivery man handed me my receipt for signature he informed me that there might be “some assembly required.”

“Some assembly?” I asked shocked. “I hate putting things together. Can’t you guys just do it for me? I’ll pay you extra.” But the answer was “no.”

Opening the refrigerator size crates, we dumped the contents and out scattered a million pieces of metal across the wooden flooring. Grabbing every screw driver I had in my tool box, we feverishly worked to get the job done while it was still daylight.

“Which way do you turn this thing?” Mondana asked, as she held the #4 metal instrument.

“Oh for God’s sake. Haven’t you ever turned a screw driver before?” I answered a little frustrated. “Turn it clockwise – I think.”

After what felt like an eternity, and every swear word Webster never put into his dictionary, plus a few broken fingernails, the task was complete.

“Please,” I begged once more. “Just sit down.”

“Okay,” she replied hesitantly. “But if I fall on my rear end, I’m going to kill you!”

My dear friend maneuvered her slight five-foot five-inch frame to the front of the wrought iron seat. Gingerly she held onto the arm rests and as if in slow motion, carefully placed her body down on the tan cushion. First, there was only silence as she sat perfectly still. Then a smile graced her beautiful face, as well as a look of utter amazement.

“Whoa hoo! I can’t believe it!” she screamed, looking up to the heavens. “We did it. It didn’t break!”

But still the dilemma remained, where do all the extra pieces go?

Gathering the small miscellaneous items into a baggie for safe keeping, thoughts of Christmas’s long past rushed into my memory bank. Each December 24th, after a long evening of food and family, and once the children were fast asleep, there would be a variety of toys that came out of their hiding places in my closet with that frightening statement – “some assembly required.” Struggling on the living room floor with bicycle parts, wagons, doll house walls, miniature castles and toy furniture, my children’s father and I would inevitably find ourselves dealing with the same question.

“Huh? What is this part and where do these go?” But due to exhaustion, plus the knowledge we’d only have about two hours of sleep before our brood woke up and began to rip through the display, we’d just throw them away and hope for the best.

Inevitably, this stupid action on my part would prove to be extremely foolish. At some point during the next few days, a toy would break and it would be that one screw or nail (made specifically by Mattel – never to be found in any hardware store) that could have saved the day (not to mention my children’s hearts) if I’d only put it in a safe place.

Pushing the remaining hardware aside on the iron table top, Mondana and I opened a bottle of wine to celebrate our accomplishment. Clinking our goblets and patting ourselves on our backs, it struck me how similar these nuts and bolts, sitting in a pile before me, were like old friends who’ve wandered in and out of my life over the years. They had a purpose, but for some reason I’d pushed them aside when their job was done.

There is an old poem that talks about the “Reason, Season and Lifetime” friends. With the Season friend, you share, grow and learn about yourself. They fulfill part of your world like never before, but ultimately one day they leave. Fortunately, they are never too far away and a phone call can connect you once again.

The Lifetime friend comes with lessons that help you build a solid, emotional core of being and because of them you use all learned in every other relationships. These friends stay with you forever. They are the ones you build your life around

But it’s the Reason friends I often think about. Those individuals who tiptoed in to meet a need I had in the moment. They are the ones who, like a brightly colored elusive butterfly, lighted gently on my shoulder for a brief time to guide me through an emotional period, whether it be physical or spiritual. They were there for the specific reason, but then just as quietly as they came, they fly away never to be heard from again.

I would like to think I just didn’t throw them away, but looking at the sack of nuts and bolts made me realize that I had to be more conscious of everyone that touches my life – if even only for a second. We need food and water to help us grow, but we need relationships to keep us alive.

Is there someone you’ve nudged away lately? I know I have. I think it’s time we all made a conscious effort to stay in touch. With cell phones, emails, face book, twitter (the list goes on and on), we have absolutely no excuses to not let someone who has a special place in our hearts know it.