I met her when I was 13. We were good friends in high school but actually became closer as the years passed. She was unpredictable and explosive at times but in the most hilarious and wonderful ways. She never hesitated to say what she thought and I admired this because I always tried to say the "right" things. She was the first person from the past that I came out to and she was the one friend I always visited when I was home on breaks from college. Every time we got together, we would laugh hysterically and you know how I love to laugh. After college, we both went on to graduate school but continued to talk on the phone sporadically. When we did, it was as if no time had passed, as if we'd just shared a bottle of wine and good conversation the night before. I went to her wedding and she was at our commitment ceremony. We had our first kids at about the same time and would talk on the phone about the less than fuzzy wuzzy parenting feelings we sometimes had. The comfort old friends provide is only overshadowed by the beautiful ways in which they keep us honest and humble. About three years ago, Luisa and I packed up the kids and drove to Kansas City to see my family and we arranged to spend the night with my friend and her family. We arrived, ordered Chinese takeout and had a couple of drinks. As the night wore on, my friend drank heavily and began to make passive references to things that I had said in the past that had obviously caused her a great deal of pain. I was shocked - I had never meant to hurt her and she had clearly been holding onto all of this for a long time. I apologized but my words seemed to have no impact on her. The more she talked, the more concerned I became about her apparent depression, about our friendship and, I'll be honest, about her drinking. I told her I was concerned about these things and she became angry. Sometimes, I wish that I had said nothing. At other times, I am convinced that I did nothing wrong. I didn't know, however, that our relationship would be forever changed.
I believe that I am a good and loyal friend. It is one of my essential truths. That said, I know that I am not a perfect person and I make mistakes and I sometimes hurt the people that I love. But, I am also willing to work hard on my relationships, willing to accept responsibility for my mistakes and forgive others for theirs. So, I thought that I would be able to work things out with my friend. I let some time pass and I sent her an e-mail apologizing for any pain that I had caused her and asking her to contact me. She did not respond. About a year later, my stepfather died and I called her to tell her, naively thinking she would want to know. She was curt on the phone and it was very clear that she did not want to talk to me. I was hurt but I held out hope. I thought of her often and I took some time to reflect on the things I might have done that hurt her. When I felt I had some answers, I sent her another, longer e-mail taking responsibility for my actions in the past and explaining to her how much she meant to me, how much our friendship meant to me. Once again, I asked her to contact me and, once again, she did not respond. It became clear to me at that point that our friendship was over and I began to mourn the loss. I did not contact her when my mother died. I knew there was no point. She did find out, however, because she expressed her condolences in a comment on this blog. This was the devastating final blow for me and I sent her one last e-mail telling her how much it hurt that she had never responded to any of my attempts at reconciliation and that she had chosen to leave a blog comment about my mother's death rather than call me or even send me an e-mail. Twenty four years of friendship...and it was over.
Mourning the loss of someone you love is a process, I know that. There are times when I am at peace and there are times when I have a little ache that can be traced to this particular loss. I was getting over it though...until, a couple of weeks ago, this friend popped up in the "People You May Know" section on my Facebook page and the pain came rushing back. Each day that I saw her picture there, though, it got easier and, in some crazy way, I actually found some comfort in her picture. Then, a couple of days ago, she stopped showing up and, based on a little investigation, I can safely assume that she blocked me. I had made no attempts to contact her so it wasn't necessary. It was just another hurtful piece of our friendship's end. I still miss my friend and I still love her. I will forever remember sleepovers at her house, the nights we spent hovering over a Quija board, stealing street signs, drinking rum and grape juice and smoking clove cigarettes. I will remember her laugh and her biting humor. I will remember all of these things and more.
I am turning off comments for the first time ever because you are a very sweet and - I'm going to say it -rather protective bunch. I don't want anything said in support of me or defense of me to cause my friend any more pain should she find her way here someday. This...this is simply me letting go.
*Edited to add...it seems that maybe she did not block me after all. She was definitely gone for awhile but now I can see her again. So, in the effort of fairness, I just wanted to correct that piece of all of this.