I saw you the other day. You were with your husband, whom I barely know, and your child, whom I’ve never met. I saw you, and I was filled with the usual mix of hope and dread. Hope, that you would come over and say hi. Dread, because if you did, I wouldn’t have a clue what to say. But you didn’t, and I left, experiencing the usual mix of relief and sorrow. Relief that I wouldn’t have to find the words to cover the years and spaces between us. Sorrow over the death of a friendship.
If someone had asked me when the sickness in our friendship began, I would have said it was when we stopped living in the same place, but, on reflection, I can see now that the symptoms were there long before. You see, both of us assumed that we would be friends forever, and so both of us took the other for granted. Perhaps you more than me; because I realised one day that I was losing you, and I didn’t want to let that happen. But by the time I realised it was already almost too late.
So I fought. I fought hard. I wrote and emailed, texted (I didn’t call. I don’t like unplanned phone calls). And I received some responses, but it always seemed that they were half-hearted promises, never fulfilled or too late to make a difference.
You have to understand that I don’t blame you, because in the end, I gave up. I couldn’t keep fighting because it hurt too much.
I recognise, too, that the last missed opportunity was my fault. We had actually made plans. I was meant to drive over to see you. But then the day came and I was sick. And as I am being honest, I need to tell you that part of the sickness was out of fear. My life was a mess at that time, and as much as I wanted to see you, I didn’t want to have to explain, and I didn’t have the strength to hide all the stuff I was dealing with. So I cancelled, and you were lovely about it. You said we’d try again soon, that we’d meet in the middle, both make a trip to cover the distance between us. And this meant so much to me, because all I’d ever wanted was for you to meet me halfway.
And that was the last time I heard from you.
It was your birthday a few weeks ago. Social media reminded me. Even if it hadn’t, I would have known. The date is etched into my mental calendar. And again, I faced the dilemma – do I acknowledge it or not? I tried to remember if you had acknowledged mine. In the end, I let it pass. Once again, I was at a loss for what to say.
Maybe I’m a coward. Because the truth is, I have no idea how to fix this, and I’m scared it’s too broken, and I know I can’t do it on my own, and I’m scared that if I try, I’ll get hurt again if you don’t make the effort. Sadly, it becomes easier not to try.
And I’m sorry, I’m sorry that in the end, history and shared experience have not been enough. I’m sorry that I’ve given up, sorry that maybe you didn’t even notice I had. Sorry for any awkwardness if you should come over to chat next time.
Who knows, maybe one day this will all be forgotten. Maybe there’s a chance it will be like old times again.
So you must know, I forgive you. And I hope you can forgive me.