Reason, Season or a Lifetime?

When I was 10 years old my best friend at the time, Lauri Madsen* phoned to tell me she didn’t want to be my best friend anymore. (Cue flaming arrow through the heart) There was a new girl at school, Leah*.

Leah and Lauri were getting along like a house on fire. Even their names sounded good together. I had seen it coming. The third wheel always knows.

‘We’ll always be friends” Lauri cheerfully offered, “just not best friends”.

I nodded and okay’d and generally hurried to get off the phone so I could dramatically throw myself on the bed and cry.

It wasn’t that Lauri was the ‘be all, end all’ of best friends, in fact… I was always a little scared to go round her house. Her mum was mean and Lauri always had really dirty feet.

What really hurt was the harshness of her honesty.

‘I don’t want to be your best friend anymore. ’Pow. Right in the gut.

Did you really need to call me and tell me? Wouldn’t the slow fade have been a kinder option? Like putting an old dog to sleep before their legs go. You know, the humane way. Instead I was running through the fields and BAM, shot down in my prime like Bambi’s mother.

Now that I am 20 years on and I have had my fair share of friendships that have drifted off into the ether, I’m thinking Lauri’s approach might have been the right one.

Having grown up in an international school where there was a high turnover rate and moving several times during middle and high school, I was used to intense periods of friendship followed by…. nothing.

“Sure sure, we’ll write, I’ll call.” But it never really worked. Especially not when you’re younger. “Out of sight, out of mind” my mother would always remind me. “What about absence makes the heart grow fonder?”

But when you meet real friends, soul mate friends, you think…we will always be in each other’s lives. No matter distance, time or age. We’ll still be able to call each other up and we’ll be right back in it. There is nothing that could happen that we couldn’t work through, talk through, get through.

I was convinced of this.

This has not been the case.

An influential friend in my life has slow faded. Pretty much erased herself, but we’ll call it a fade. Whatever.

It’s been happening for the last few years, I’ve known it was happening. I could feel her physically retracting from me.

Consciously or unconsciously? Maybe a little of both? Did I retract too?

I have been irrational with anger, I have pleaded, I have pretended everything is ok…I have let it go. (Well I’ve told myself I’ve let it go…but clearly I’m still hung up on it because I feel the need to write about it.)

Sadly, I can’t even blame her. Not entirely. Two sides to every story, and while I feel like I fought hard, I too contributed to our demise. Small holes appeared in our friendSHIP (pun most definitely intended) and they didn’t get repaired properly. They were patched up hastily and poorly, they were ignored when they were pinpricks and pretty soon we had gaping holes in our stern and we were going down fast.

What I wouldn’t give for a phone call to let me know why, to have some sort of closure. Instead I play the ‘IF’ game. Two very small letters with too many possible scenarios. The ‘WHY’ game is another excellent torture device but with 3 letters instead of 2.

For a while I still had the ability to feel connected, however unsatisfying and crazy making it was. Facebook is such a guilty pleasure when it comes to spying on people. Any time of day you can pull up their page, look through photos and feel falsely included in their social media version of ‘life’.

It feels like a dirty habit. Scratch that. It IS a dirty habit. (I don’t know whether it’s pathetic or brilliant that my dirty habit is spying on failed friendships on Facebook. Better than heroin!)

My cold turkey has been forced upon me. I have been blocked from her Facebook.

It’s actually a good thing. (I’m lying) It is the push I needed to move on. (Still lying).

When a friend of mine died, the grieving process was long and hard, but I had no choice, she was gone. From the world, from her family and from me. Accepting that was inevitable, there was literally no other choice.

So how do we grieve the end of a friendship, and the loss of a person from our world when they are still in the physical world? It feels like a death to me. It might as well be. (Aside from the fact that she is very much alive, and very happy, I hope. I wouldn’t know, I’ve been blocked from Facebook. Not bitter at all).

A funeral often marks the end of a life.

What about a funeral for the end of a friendship? Really put the FUN in funeral.

A slideshow of our best times together, to start us off. Video’s and photos, timed nicely to our favourite songs. We’ll probably start off up beat – Eliciting chimes of laughter and “Were we ever that young? Look at our clothes! Why did I think a thick line of blue eye-liner on my top eye lid ever looked good?”

I’d get up and tell THE stories. You know the ones. Our legends. Stories that have been repeated so many times that we both know them upside down and inside out. Reliving them is almost as fun as when they happened (and really, isn’t that one of the biggest losses in a friendship – there is no one there to join in on the ‘Remember when…”)

I’d talk about when we first realized we had a special friendship, the kind neither of us had experienced before. How we nurtured the good and (for a little while) weathered the bad. We could be completely ourselves, expose our secrets, silly and deep, and still feel safe and loved. I’d wistfully recount that everyday we would laugh – about anything, about nothing. How we found each other, lost each other, found each other again…and then…it all went tits up, really.

If we came together to say goodbye, would we be right back where we started? Would we hug, cry and “let’s never let time and space and the unknown come between us again”?… Or, would you just not show up?

I read a poem once, entitled ‘Reason, Season or a Lifetime’ – a handy way to figure out your friendships. It is the motto I adopted to justify when a friendship ends. The trick of course, is to figure out which one your friend is. No one wants to find out what they thought was a lifetime, was really only a reason.

*Names have been changed just in case one of them reads this and gets mad at me, mainly, I imagine, for the dirty feet comment.

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