Monday, October 3, 2016

When Friends Become Strangers


Love and Loss
When I started this project I knew that if I was going to connect with the people who helped shape my life, it would mean revisiting some of the losses along the way.

This is the story of how I lost my best friend.  Friends since the first grade, we grew up doing scouts and local theatre.  There were slumber parties, crushes, and adolescent heartbreak.  After elementary school we went to a public middle school, while most of our friends moved on to private school.  With different class schedules we also made different friends.  High school found us at different schools and by graduation we were living in different states.  But we stayed in touch.  Summer vacations were spent watching movies and complaining that there was nothing to do.  Throughout all of that, our history kept us connected.

A year after my mother died we got in a fight.  As I grieved that loss, what I needed from my friends was different from what I had to give. I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  Nine years have passed without speaking.  We’ve missed the death of a parent, a marriage, and the birth of two children.  


Reaching Out
It took me awhile to decide how to reach out to her.  Of all the lunches, I knew this one would be the most difficult.  I sent an email then waited for a reply. 

We met at a local restaurant. I was hoping to feel a connection again.  I thought that perhaps now that we share the experience of becoming a parent and losing a parent we could use that as common ground on which to rebuild our friendship. 

There are things I could have said and things I would have liked to hear, but I realized that bringing up the past wasn’t going to accomplish anything.  We filled in the holes left by our nine year absence from one another's lives.  We broke awkward silences with small talk.  Our meal ended and we said goodbye. 

My Story To Tell
The original story I wrote about her was very different.  In my eyes, it was the story of resilience, of the obstacles she gracefully overcame, and how she went on to college, married a good man, and built a beautiful family of her own.  I sent it to her for feedback, and I waited.  But then I realized that her story is not my story to tell.  So I’m telling you my story instead -  the story of a person who couldn’t be the friend she apparently needed me to be. 

Regardless of what the future holds for us, I am grateful for the indelible mark she left on my life.  I’m grateful that she loved me enough to be my friend during those awkward, angry years when it was probably hard to be my friend.  I’m grateful that she always remembered my birthday and that I love German-chocolate cake.  I respect her determination, her dedication to her family, and that she always roots for the underdog. 


There are people who leave our lives because they are bad for us, or because they are taken from us, and then there are those who we simply outgrow.  Maybe that’s what happened; we fed each other, and grew, and grew, and grew, until our lives no longer fit together.

6 comments:

  1. Great reflections ..think this happens to all of us but your words are so eloquently stated

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. This one was tough, but I think everyone can relate to those feelings of loss.

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  2. Great reflections ..think this happens to all of us but your words are so eloquently stated

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  3. What ever reason it maybe, it still hurts knowing you lost a friend. I am sorry you lost her, I am hoping you can rekindle the friendship after all these years.

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  4. This is beautiful. As I grow older and look back on the friends I've lost -- who were my absolute, never going to lose them BFFs -- I am partly sad at the loss of their friendship and then appreciative of what they contributed to my growth. I mean, I'm talking I have friends who were in my wedding who I rarely (if ever) talk to anymore. This is a real thing, and you have explained it with grace.

    Have you seen that meme that talks about how some people are dropped into our life to help us grow? I'll have to find it!

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  5. Beautiful post! I can totally relate to this. It's hard and it also hurts but life goes on, you meet new people and make new friends!

    Rita | http://www.styleroundtheclock.com

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