October 4, 2011
The Life and Death of a Friendship
The first time we met was over the phone. She’d called to inquire about a group I belonged to, but we ended up talking about other things. She and I clicked.
We still clicked when we met a week later. We were surprised by all we had in common. She loved the Gilmore Girls, and I got the DVD boxed set for Mother’s Day. We both loved china and crystal and parties. Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy made us swoon. We complained about the same things too. It’s funny, but at this moment I can’t remember what.
Soon we were spending an hour on the phone everyday. We’d go to the coffee shop and she would get tea and I would get coffee. We promptly lost track of time and were gone for much longer than we (or our families) had anticipated. After a few hours I would start getting guilt pangs and say, “I’m getting the guilts. I should go home and make dinner.”
We laughed together often and cried sometimes, as well. We could tell each other anything, even the mucky things about ourselves that we’d never shared with anyone. I’d never had a friend quite like that. She was an amazing person. I admired her ability to focus totally on whoever she was talking to. And I loved her sense of humor and wit. She was wise, too. I could call and ask things that at one time I’d only trust my mother to answer: “This hamburger has been in my frig for six days. Do you think it’s still good?”
We called each other when we needed someone to pull us from the brink of disaster (physical or emotional). “I’m making flower arrangements for the graduation reception. They suck.” I’d shout into the phone. Then I’d break into my signature pathetic whine, “Can you come over?” No matter what else she was doing, she’d come over and fix it. And I’d do the same for her. When an acquaintance mistook us for sisters, we were delighted. Neither of us had ever had a sister– until now.
My three girls and two boys clicked with her three daughters and they soon were acting like brothers and sisters. She and her family accepted our invitation to spend Christmas at our house. My kids hated not having any cousins to spend Christmas with, and this was an answered prayer. We spent a wonderful day together and when I went to bed that evening, I envisioned years of growing up and growing old together, her family and mine. It was a lovely dream.
One autumn, a few years after we met a change came over my friend. She stopped calling and wouldn’t answer my calls or return them. Her daughters did the same to my daughters. If I went to her house, she wouldn’t answer the door. But if we saw each other socially and I spoke to her, she seemed her normal witty self. I wasn’t sure if she was avoiding me or if I was imagining it.
After awhile I was certain things had changed, but if I brought up the subject she avoided giving me a straight answer. And my heartfelt apologies (for what, I was never sure), had no effect. As suddenly as we became friends, we became strangers. And my heart broke. I watched all the lovely visions of our families growing up and growing old together turn black and swirl away like smoke.
Now when I see her, she turns her head and hurries past, pretending she hasn’t seen me. And I wonder what I did to make her so bitter that she would throw away our beautiful friendship, without giving me the grace to try to save it.
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