We go through our lives meeting people, from as far back as toddler to present day. Every day, while out and about running errands, in exercise class, at the local coffee shop; we bump into potential friends. Some of these acquaintances will soon become friends, and some will simply fade with time. Some of these friends will stay through the years and some will leave. A dear friend of mine gave some great advice to me. She said, “All relationships end one way or another. They leave, you leave, they die, or you die; but they all end. It is inevitable.”
I got to thinking about this as something very disturbing happened to me just yesterday. I had a friend – one that I thought was a dear friend. This person was a friend and neighbor of my sister Kimball and a person who basically brought me back to my soloing. I will forever be in her debt. Somewhere around last April (she and I had a concert in March), I was gearing up for a gig in June and she informed me of her sister. Her sister had a brain tumor and that she would not be able to be doing any rehearsing or gigs at the moment. My concern was immediate for her.
Later as I was working on Kimball’s home (which is right next door), I saw my friend as she was just returning from taking care of her sister. She looked so tired and I was very concerned. I walked over and spoke with here. She was spending the week-days with her sister and weekends with her family; I could see the concern/worry on her face. All I could think of was myself in the same position a couple of years prior and what did I want? The best I could do was to at least give her a smile/laughter/family time. So, I started buying up all the cards I could that were (in my opinion) hysterical! Just for no reason cards… Had done this for a friend before – he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and, like now, feeling helpless, I was determined to at least continue to let him know I’m thinking about him.
So, I started off with a card and a couple of Gift Certs to her families favorite restaurant (ah! Family time! Very much-needed, you think?). Then tried to pop a text or a card, followed by another… I wasn’t very consistent, but tried. But then it was eerily silent on the other end. No recognition of the cards being received. No return phone calls, no return texts. No “hi thanks for thinking of me!” Nothing!
Again, she accompanied me on the piano, so I would occasionally inform her how much I missed her mighty fingers tickling those ivories, and things like that… but nothing. Finally, on Facebook, I was posting a post of a fantastic rehearsal with this incredible singer/songwriter and… you know how when you place a friend’s name in your post it ‘highlights’? Well, hers didn’t… After a couple tries, I looked her up and saw – “+Add As Friend” button… I was crushed. I checked my other page (yes I have two… a personal and professional) – gone!
As you can imagine, I was extremely upset, though not surprised. Call it a ‘gut feeling’ but I knew something was up and I’m not usually wrong in cases like this. I’m still pretty upset and am forced to ask myself; why oh why do I seem to pick people in my life who are so passive aggressive? Do we pick those around us who emulate our parents? Or who emulate our actions?
My mother, though I loved her very much and knew she loved me, never utter the words “I love you” until I started uttering them to her when I was eighteen years old – and even then she didn’t initiate those words until a couple of days before my wedding when I was twenty-five! She was not a woman of conflict and I can remember a time when she didn’t speak to me for two maybe three weeks. Not even uttered my name. It took my brother, David, to scream and yell at her; asking “What could Ann have possibly done that would make you do this to her? Can’t you see what you are doing?” Gosh, I can still hear that night… I don’t believe I ever saw him so angry or my mother so mute.
Later, when I was around thirty, she and I had a conversation about those horrible weeks. I came to find out one day when I was clearing out my dresser drawer… I remembered: It was back in the fall, I was with my girlfriend Elaine, who was also great friends with my boyfriend Craig. Craig and I had been an item for almost two years and I was going on sixteen. Elaine and I were talking under the tree, sipping our lemonade when she was telling me how concerned she was about Craig and I and that I hadn’t gone to the Doctor or to the clinic to get protection. I told her there was no need – I was still a virgin and we weren’t going to do anything (blushing as I was talking).
Later that night, she drove me over to her place. She told me she had something for me and really felt that I should have it. It was a Spermicide (in those days the company was called Semicede). She had used one, didn’t like it. She told me how to use it. The whole case was so small, could fit in the palm of my hand. She dropped me off, I went in to bed, dropped it in my top dresser drawer and forgot about it…
Back to clearing out my dresser drawer, I saw the small plastic box entitled “Semiced” and it hit! My mother must have seen this…
Fast forward to age of thirty; I’m sitting with my mother and I tell her that I have to speak to her about something. I bring up the whole debacle and when I explain how it was given to me and that one was already missing, I swear it was as if a light went off in her. Suddenly she understood and felt so, so sorry. We hugged and cried for a good thirty minutes that night. Then talked more until about 2:00 in the morning.
To this day, I’m grateful to have gotten that right with my mother. But when things like what has happened, such as being unjustly cut out of someone’s life and our friendship is tossed, I am brought back to those painful weeks in high school. When judgment had been cast and I was given no way to explain myself or to declare/prove my innocence. And I’m forced to ask (since this seems to be a repeating pattern with the friends I choose); am I choosing those that exemplify my mother? Or me? Or is it some Karmic justice that I deserve?
After thinking long and hard about this, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is very possible this person has cast me out because I’m a painful reminder of the possibilities of a loss that she cannot face. Kimball died of stage four cancer (something that her sister has). Unfortunately, you cannot make your pain easier by cutting reminders of ‘what could be’ out of your life just because you can’t face the possibility.
Then again, maybe I did do or say something; I’ll never know. But this has given me great insight as to how I’ve been picking those around me – I deserve better. But this is a two-way street, and perhaps it’s time for this old girl to take inventory.
In closing – I found this…
To a friend…loved and lost.
© Carmen Harlan
Today I stopped trying to be ‘someone’ for somebody who never thought of me as anyone appreciated and important to them.
Inside I know the space I had for them is now crushed and broken..
Let the facts be out in the open and the truth be spoken…
In time it will be for the best…although I feel an emptiness…knowing what I considered worthwhile..proved shallow and unreal.
I’ve learned sometimes emotions seem clearer than perception..and eventually can lead to a heartbreaking revelation that someone cherished proves that their friendship was in fact deception.
I cry tears of realization that once again I believed the lies that were in disguise and covered up…
Honesty was masked with coy flattery. Why was I so darn naive?
I can and will move on…but I won’t forget I was forgot and actually believed a lie. Not a lie out of the mouth…but of the heart.
That piece of friendship is now many torn apart….
I mustn’t be sorry for the encouragement and love I shared…because I know what I offered was itself a dare. A dare to let someone be a part of me…who didn’t find a reason to care.
Moments like these are rare… moments that I feel what I felt to be ‘nothing’ now and bare.
Thanks for the lesson learned…and always remembered. You were a ‘lucky’ someone who successfully got a part of the best of me. Now I’ll throw away the scattered and useless pieces and leave you be.