"Mitch, you are one of the good ones," he says, admiring the briefcase. Then he hugs me. I feel his thin arms around my back. I am taller than he is, and when he holds me, I feel awkward, older, as if I were the parent and he were the child.
He asks if I will stay in touch and without hesitation I say, "Of course." (1.11-12)
This is Mitch and Morrie's first friend moment. We see Morrie's super loving nature kind of overwhelming Mitch, which kind of sets up their dynamic in which Morrie showers Mitch with sincere love and affection and Mitch doesn't really know how to respond. He learns over time, though… thanks to Morrie.
Mitch, I said. Mitch is what my friends call me.
"Well, Mitch it is then," Morrie says, as if closing a deal. "And Mitch?"
"I hope that one day you will think of me as your friend." (4.54-57)
Here goes Morrie with the let's-be-friends thing again. During his first class, Morrie asks Mitch what he likes to be called, which is a friendly thing for a professor to do. And Mitch feels like there's some kind of "deal" being closed. Friendship is a deal, a choice.
This time, when the cameramen and producers came through the door, they already felt like family. And Koppel himself was noticeably calmer. There was no feeling-out process, no interview before the interview. (11.1)
Morrie's infectious ability to make friends even gets to the news anchor who comes to interview him. By the second visit, everybody's casual and friendly with each other. Friends can be made with everyone, even people you're doing a quick business transaction with.
"Say I was divorced, or living alone, or had no children. This disease—what I'm going through—would be so much harder. I'm not sure I could do it. Sure, people would come visit, friends, associates, but it's not the same as having someone who will not leave." (14.11)
Morrie is talking about family. Even though he has lots of friends who come to visit him, he's saying that family is a type of friendship that can't be replaced. It's so important for people to have family because they're stuck to you no matter what.
"Ahhhh, it's my buddy," he would say when he saw me, in that foggy, high-pitched voice. And it didn't stop with the greeting. When Morrie was with you, he was really with you. He looked you straight in the eye, and he listened as if you were the only person in the world. (19.52)
Morrie is the best friend ever because he has this way of making you feel like you're the only person who matters. He doesn't get distracted by things around him, and instead gives Mitch this intense, amazing attention. This special quality is very important in making him the kind of person everybody wants to feel close to.
Later, Morrie would grin mischievously and say, "I'm getting to him." And he was. Koppel now referred to Morrie as "a friend." My old professor had even coaxed compassion out of the television business. (22.4)
The television crew is in town for a final visit when Morrie is in his final stages. Notice that this time, Morrie's not the one calling folks friends, it's the television guy, Ted Koppel. He's managed to break this guy down to the point where he's willing to go out on a limb and call this sick man that he's only met three times a friend. Now that's powerful.
"I don't know why you came back to me. But I want to say this…"
He paused, and his voice choked.
"If I could have had another son, I would have liked it to be you." (23.33-35)
Here Morrie makes a statement that goes way beyond friendship. He's already said that family is the most intense friendship, and here he puts Mitch right there with his family, saying that if he could pick additions to the family he already has, it would be him.
"Over the years, I met Norman a few times and he always tried to reconcile, but I didn't accept it. I wasn't satisfied with his explanation. I was prideful. I shrugged him off." (23.10)
In their talk about forgiveness, Morrie opens up to Mitch and tells him about an old friend whom he turned his back on because of a bad situation between them. He's sad about it now because he never had the chance to make things right, and tells Mitch that forgiveness toward friends is always more important than wanting to be right.
"You… are a good soul." A good soul.
"Touched me…" he whispered. He moved my hands to his heart. "Here."
It felt as if I had a pit in my throat. Coach?
I don't know how to say good-bye.
He patted my hand weakly, keeping it up on his chest.
"This… is how we say… good-bye…" (25.31-37)
This is a snippet of Mitch and Morrie's heart-wrenching goodbye. After all Morrie's talking and coaching Mitch through life, it is Morrie who admits that his student touched his heart. We know it's the other way around, too, but this final statement sums up what friendship is all about and how Morrie shows us what counts until the very end.
Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. (27.17)
There's just something about friendship that won't go away. Mitch is saying that when you have a person like Morrie in your life, they don't just leave. A true friend teaches you something valuable about yourself and about what love should be like, and their impact lingers whether they're around any longer ot not.