Friends for a Season
My friend died suddenly. At one point, she was one of the three people who I believed would never NOT be one of my best friends no matter how many miles separated us. I was wrong. Because of the demanding circumstances of her life, the distance, our marriages, and whatever other excuse there is, our friendship became secondary. It hurts to say this, but it hurt even more as it was happening.
I have always needed good friends, and therefore, have always acted as a good friend to those who could accept me, blemished though I was/am. Those who did accept me, and were open, honest and sincere in their dealings with me, I loved. That’s why she was in my life; I loved her. Her death made me look at myself… again, with the magnifying glass of one who is asking what I could have done differently? The answer—probably nothing.
I don’t know what exactly caused her to close the door on our friendship, though she never did lock me completely out. I know when it began because her behavior sent me into an emotional tailspin. I cried about her not taking my calls and her making excuses to not let me visit. I talked about it to her but her response was not what I wanted to hear, and, as a method of self-protection, I backed away from that closing door. I started to call only a few times a year, and I never asked if I could visit. If I were going to be near her city, I would call to let her know, but she would always be planning something important, or going somewhere, so I started to expect those closed-door responses.
When we did manage to talk or see each other, we so enjoyed each other—just like old times. We’d promise to do better about communicating, but didn’t.
A Missed Opportunity
Two days before she died, I talked with a mutual friend whom I’d not heard from in a year. I was so excited that I wanted to call and tell my former best friend about the connection. It was too early to call her since she was not an early riser, so I put it off till later. Later never came. When I did think of calling her again, I remembered the feelings I had each time I called and she would tell her husband to tell me she’d call me back; she was not in the mood to talk, and I let the idea of the phone call pass. I was not willing to expose myself to disappointment even though we had not talked for months. I had wanted to share my joy with her, but didn’t because I did not want to feel the sting of rejection, should she not accept my call.
When my friend died, I chastised myself initially for missing the opportunity for that final conversation. But I did not dwell there long. Instead I focused on the question of whether, instead of protecting myself, could my extending myself more have helped her better cope with whatever was going on in her life. My conclusion--Probably not. She knew I was there. And as we drifted further and further apart, she became more and more private, not exposing those really dark places in her life to me. If I wandered there in our conversations, she would steer me back to safer ground. So, no, I couldn’t help in that manner. But still, I wondered what would have happened had I continued to try to push that door back open.
A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime
There is an email that circulates periodically about people being in our lives for reasons and seasons. Though I had thought ours was a lifetime friendship, it wasn’t. According to that email, it was seasonal. I guess she understood that, and when our season was over, she let me go. Had I tried to hang on, I would have simply been hurt more. My friend’s death has taught me to love those who open themselves to my love for however long they welcome that love. And when they no longer do, I must accept what they can offer—embrace the moments with them with all the joy I can muster, then let go. What a hard lesson to learn—what a sad, but necessary one.
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