Monday, September 25, 2017

A Friendship Lost ~ Monday Musings



Sometimes in life you come to painful realizations that force you to make painful decisions. Decisions you never wanted to make.

Many years ago, I lost a dear friend. She was not just a friend, but we had been best friends for 14 years. I loved her like a sister. We could talk until the cows came home and we laughed about so many things. We were true kindred spirits. She spent hours at my house, and hours pouring her soul out to me. I remember nights when she would call in a despondent frame of mind and ask, "Can I spend the night at your place?" and even when it wasn't convenient, I always said, "Of course you can."

All friendships are tested. That's how you know if they're true or not. Through the years, our friendship was tested. We would argue and butt heads, but we always stayed true to each other and to our friendship. We'd brush ourselves off after a fight, then pick up where we left off. We never shut the other one out; communication is key to the success of any relationship. I felt certain she and I would be friends until we were old and gray.

But one day I found myself facing one of the most difficult and complex seasons of my life. Suddenly, this dear friend, whom I loved like a sister, became silent and disappeared. We had always been able to talk about everything and anything. She would listen to me rant, or, in some cases, ramble; I'd do the same for her, yet, suddenly—in my critical hour of need—she had nothing to say to me, and apparently didn't care what I had to say either. No phone call came saying, "I'm praying for you." No letter came saying, "You're in my thoughts today and I wanted you to know I'm here for you." Nothing. Just silence.

A few years earlier, she had married and moved far away. Her life consisted of lots of traveling, so our friendship had already taken a turn in a different direction. There were no cell phones in those days, so staying in touch wasn't always simple, but there was still no question that we were best friends. Whenever she was in town, we made time for each other, just like the old days. But, suddenly, she was no longer friendly whenever I saw her. The change in her confused me and hurt so much. And every day that she remained distant, it felt like a knife went deeper into my heart.

For what seemed like forever, I tried to hold onto our friendship—I treasured what we had shared through the years. I couldn't imagine that the last 14 years had meant so little to her. I wrote to her several times, even asking why she was distant. Had I done something?

But no reply ever came.

It wasn't until years later that she remotely addressed the elephant in the room. I saw her one evening at a church event. When our eyes met, she came to me and made a feeble attempt at saying how sorry she was for all that my family had gone through—speaking of the trial but still not naming it, which seemed a cowardly thing to do.

By this time, I was well on my way to a better place emotionally, so it was all I could do not to laugh. It was all I could do not to say, "Is this your idea of a sick joke? Where were you when I desperately needed you three years ago? Where were you when I wrote to you and poured my heart out to you? You let me go through a heartbreaking season without the comfort and encouragement of my best friend! I waited and I waited and I waited to hear from you, but eventually, I gave up. I've forgiven you, and I still love you, but I had to move on without you. Your words mean nothing to me now, but they would have meant everything then."

Of course, I didn't do or say any of the above. I hugged her and thanked her, but I knew nothing would ever be the same. We couldn't go back. It had nothing to do with forgiveness or love. I had forgiven her and wished her only the best in life, and I still loved her, but something inside had withered during her absence. I felt as if a limb had been amputated. I had no desire to invest more time into a person who had abandoned me in my hour of need. What kind of a friend was that? And so there went 14 years of friendship down the toilet. To this day, I still don't understand why she chose to ignore me when I needed her most. I had not changed. I was still the same person I'd always been, but, sadly, she became someone I didn’t know.

Others tried consoling me regarding her absence by saying, "Maybe she just didn't know what to say."

That response has always been a pet peeve. OK. Maybe she didn't know what to say. If that's the case, all she had to do was say so. "I don't know what to say, Dayle, and I'm so sorry that I don't know what to say. I'm here for you, but I don't know what to say. I'll listen to you until dawn, but I may not have anything to say."

Believe it or not, just to be listened to would have been more than enough. Many times in our history that's all I had provided for her—a sympathetic ear. When I didn't know what to say, I always listened. It would have been enough.

It’s been almost 20 years since our friendship ended. In the early years, my memories of her remained vivid, and I thought of our happy, crazy times together often. I missed her something fierce. Today, the memories have faded. What few remain no longer make me smile or laugh. I feel nothing.

Friendships, like any other relationship, must be nourished and will be tested. Such is life. I have friends of the dearest kind with whom I’ve had major disputes, but our friendship proved to be of the truest kind, because today, we’re closer than ever before. We've been there for each other. We never let any silence between us linger.

Could I have done more to save the 14-year friendship that no longer exists? I've asked myself that a thousand times. Maybe I could have. I don't know.

As I typed those words just now, I was reminded of something I read awhile back: "There comes a time when love ceases to speak if not responded to." I think that about sums it up. I had, more than once, shared my truth, my story, my heart. No reply ever came. What more could I have done?

When a friendship becomes singular, it ceases to be a relationship, and sometimes, you just have to take a deep breath and let go.


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9 comments:

  1. Dayle, I've come to understand there are many cycles in our lives and that people come & go for a reason. Of course, I understand what you're saying because I'VE been in exactly the same place. When a friend shuts you down or off it really is because they don't know how to handle "whatever." Or their thoughts & opinions are so different than yours that they remain silent even if talking it out might work. There are cowards out there. Her life changed. Your's didn't. She has a new set of values now and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Embrace the fact that you had a great relationship THEN. And, move on. I have this going on right now over our POTUS. Crazy? Yes. But, my friend is so invested in her views and me in mine that no matter how much I reach out to her I'm met with silence. 25 years of a friendship, always tenuous because of her non-stop rambling talking talking talking. I'm kinda enjoying the loss of her calling me each time she got into her car, as I was her "dead-time" friend, always wanting to be with me for holidays, though she has no friends or family, she was included. No more. Let's just lift our head's up high and be grateful for what we have today. xx's

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    1. This was helpful. Thank you. I agree, there are seasons to everything, and I guess even friendship is included in that.

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  2. Wow. On so many levels from different angles, I think we may all have encountered a small portion of this story. You never know what is going on in people's lives, but good communication could cure many of our troubles. So sorry you had to endure this, but so happy you shared.

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  3. It's difficult to lose such a good friend. I have a friend that I was so close with at one point and unfortunately our lives took very different directions....I guess it happens, but it's still sad.

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  4. Some things just don't make sense.

    Hug.

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  5. Sorry for the loss of that friendship, my friend.
    When one person carries the friendship, the heaviness becomes too much.
    Hugs.

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  6. Oh, I am so sorry to hear of your heartache. I, too, have suffered similar circumstances. I just recently had a dear friend send me this, and I wanted to share it with you. I have no idea who wrote it, but perhaps, it will be some comfort to you.
    The Train of Life:
    At birth we board the train and meet our parents, and we believe they will always travel at our side.
    However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.
    As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant
    i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the loves of our lives.
    Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum.
    Others will go so unnoticed that we don't realize they vacated their seats.
    This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.
    Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers, requiring that we give the best of ourselves
    The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down.
    So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are.
    It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seats empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.
    I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life. Reap success and give lots of love.
    More importantly, thank God for the journey.
    Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.
    When I step off the train of life I will be glad you were part of my journey.

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  7. Dayle, I could have written this post. I am still reeling over the lost of a long time friends. We were the best of friends for over 20 years and then poof- she, too, disappeared. I could not figure out what I did. I called and left messages. I asked her what was wrong and got a non-committal (nothing)....It was/still is just so sad to me to have lost a friend that was more like a sister than anything. We carted each others babies around and drank coffee together, we cried together and laughed until our sides hurt. I don't know if I will ever really get over the loss...maybe because it was so unexplained. If I knew the WHY of it all-it would be easier.

    God bless you- thank you for writing this. It is good to know that I am not alone and that I am not the only one that was confused about the ending of something special. Love to you, Dayle. I am sorry this happened to you---xo Diana

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  8. I'm so sorry your sweet heart's been broken.
    While there's no going back, I pray your words will touch someone who's going through a similar situation ... or even, cause someone to stop and think before they do the same thing.

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Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle