Dear Old Friend,
I saw you riding your bike this morning. You were with your beautiful, brilliant daughter, pedaling hard, headed home from the park. You looked good. Trim. It looks like you’ve been riding regularly. It’s been a while since I thought about you. At least two weeks. I wanted to stop you and chat. Hug you both, and find out how you’ve been, how you’re doing, what’s new. I wanted to know you again. But I didn’t stop you. I would certainly have cried if I had.
We used to be friends. We were of a like mind about many things. We talked about stuff that mattered, stuff that interested us, new ideas, and things we wondered about. We used to fantasize about starting a charter school and doing education the right way. There was no ambiguity about what kind of friendship it was. It was just a real one. I treasured that friendship.
So, why am I writing this in the past tense? Why did that friendship end so abruptly? Do you remember? I never have figured it out. Was it because I disappointed you, or the reverse? Did I feel betrayed by you? A little. I felt betrayed by a truth untold, and many truths told in too much detail. But then you never called or wrote again. Why was that? Were you so disappointed in me that you couldn’t continue to be friends? Or did you think I could not surmount what had happened? I could have. The only important part of that whole thing-that-ended-our-friendship was the friendship itself. The thing was not at all important to me, really. Maybe the time just got too long to break the silence, and then we both figured the friendship was over.
I still feel that way, like I don’t know how to break through the quiet. I wouldn’t know what to say to you now, after so long. What does one say to a friend long gone? Would I know what to say if I knew exactly why we cut the thread of our friendship? Probably not, but that silence would be out of fear of confrontation. This silence is born of bewilderment and sadness. And disappointment.
These last few months have been really hard for me for reasons that don’t involve you at all. I’m very thankful for the support of my friends during this time. It seems to me that hard times wake me up to what is important in a bigger way than the things I ordinarily focus on. When I was a little girl my mom taught me to sing a little song that went like this:
“Make new friends, but keep the old…One is Silver and the other is Gold.” She was right, I am certain. I still feel like I’ve lost a piece of my treasure. I wish it were otherwise.
There is another way of looking at this whole thing. Once, a really long time ago a friend just stopped calling or visiting me. I couldn’t think of a thing that had happened to cause her to do that. We were life friends, I thought. I mean, she was at the birth of my first child, for goodness sake. Finally, years later, I had the opportunity to ask her what had happened. By then she was a Scientologist and she said something like “Friendships are a limited time thing. They last as long as they are supposed to and then you move on. No regrets, no looking back. It was what it was. I would never deny it, but I can’t bring it back either.” I was stunned by that at the time, still wondering what I’d done. Now I think maybe she was right. Sometimes you just have to move on. I think part of the moving on is that you do so with a loving heart.
Once I said I would make for you a string of prayer beads. You asked that there be 108 of them. I haven’t forgotten. Don’t be surprised when they arrive one day. Know that each bead was strung with care, and prayers for your well being. I hope that life is treating you well, that you are happy and finding lots of reasons to laugh.
Take care and be well,
UPDATE: I recently read something (on Facebook of course!) that kind of relates to this post, and I found somehow comforting. It’s this:
“When people walk away from you, let them go…Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you, and it doesn’t mean they are bad people. It just means that their part in your story is over.” I like this quote a lot. That’s it.