I lost a friend the other day. And by “lost” I don’t mean misplaced. There is no need to plaster posters all over telephone poles or create milk cartons with her picture on the side. I know exactly where she is. So she isn't "lost" exactly. It’s just that we’re not friends anymore.
This doesn’t happen to me often. My good friends have been my good friends for many years. So it’s weird to have lost a good friend. It makes me sad. It makes me angry. But mostly it makes me wonder about the nature of friendships.
I will admit, I am not an easy friend. I’m demanding. I put a lot into my friendships and expect a fair amount in return. As time goes by, I understand that most people do not approach friendships in this way and that some might think I’m a pain in the ass. But as time goes by, I have also grown more flexible, more accommodating, more accepting. People get busy. We have husbands, jobs, children, parents, dogs – all of whom take our time and energy and attention. But I have found a fair number of extraordinary people who are extraordinary friends. And I consider myself incredibly lucky. So losing a friend is, to me, a pretty big deal.
I think back now, and I’m trying to figure out the moment this happened. I’m pretty sure, if I asked my friend, she’d say the rift occurred several months ago on a particular day because of a particular incident. And I’m pretty sure I disagree. I’m pretty sure that if you asked me, I’d say it happened months and maybe years before the inciting incident. Its possible that the real connective tissue of our relationship – the warp that held the weft together – began to unravel long before the moment the axe fell. I’m pretty sure that we began drifting apart years ago and that this moment, this misunderstanding, was the nail in the coffin of a body that was long diseased.
I love my friends. I’m loyal. I look past tiny slights and bumps in the road most people would trip over. These are my friends, after all, and if they are flawed then I love them all the more. But I’m not stupid. And at a certain point I do understand that loyalty has its limits – that people grow apart and that the circumstances of marriage and children and proximity all conspire to make true and deep friendships near impossible at times. I recognize that we are all always moving and not always in the same direction. I acknowledge that life throws curveballs at us, time and time again, and that the tiniest shift in response can sending us hurling down a path divergent from those around us. People change. Friends grow apart. Shit, as they say, happens.
But this was different. There was a moment in this particular schism where I suppose I could have made it all okay. I could have gone, on bended knee, with deep apology. I could have sent flowers, left messages, begged forgiveness. But what I realized, what made me most sad, is that all of that would have gotten us back on track. But “on track” was not particularly anywhere at all. The train had derailed long ago and neither of us had the balls to admit it. We had grown apart, and my breach – my mistake – my indiscretion – was the excuse she needed to get out. It turns out that our friendship is finally, exactly, where it belongs. She can shroud herself in defiant indignance – she was wronged and is justified in her icy silence. And I can be sad that I hurt my friend’s feelings but angry that her reaction was so dramatic.
That’s ok. Actually, I understand. But it still bums me out. It still makes me sad. And it still makes me miss my friend and that bond we had however long ago.