― Henri J.M. Nouwen
My friendships are of great importance to me. I pay mind to them and nurture them and truly care about them. I find the connection that I have to people enriches my life, my mind and my soul. Over the passage of time however, I realize that friendships, like most relationships ebb and flow at a certain pace or at certain periods of life.
I have come to a new realization, born out of maturity or perhaps introspection or maybe even more so, out of the ability to think differently. I have a very good friend who I have been close with since we were three years old.
We grew up together as our Mothers were the best of friends. Inevitably we were separated by distance, different colleges and experiences. Our parents remained great friends and continued to socialize.
We always had the updates from our parents despite our own personal contact. On occasion we would run into each other and quickly picked up where we left off, as if time had not passed and it was clear that our friendship would stand the passage of time, the distance between us and all the lives events that would willfully occur.
She participated in our wedding and later in life, we were all living back in Connecticut again. It was a wonderful surprise to be reunited with a childhood friend who knew all of my life history and family. Our children would know each other and we would laugh to think that we both ended up back home again. Our experiences and travel were vast and yet the connection remained.
As time passed, we never discussed the fact that my father had a terminal illness. It had an enormous impact certainly on my life. All my other friends were aware, they discussed it. I could express my sadness, my fear and my concern. I could not do so with her. Why did she never ask me about my Father.
Time passed, my father died and I could not believe that she never acknowledged it. She did not attend his wake, his funeral or come to visit. I didn't receive any acknowledgement or letter of sympathy from her, one of my closest friends. I was angry or perhaps more hurt than angry. It bothered me very much. She was extremely close to her father, how could she not comprehend my suffering and reach out to me in some fashion. Anything would have been better than nothing.
It's been ten years now, we both still live close to each other and life has presented her with some challenges of her own. I miss her and Im looking forward to spending time with her in the near future.
I have forgiven her for not attending any of the rituals that I expected her to participate in. I understand now that everyone has a different way of dealing with death and loss. It was not ill intended but perhaps a reminder to her that she will one day have to say good bye to her own father. My situation was a reality check for her and she didn't want to face it. I could not comprehend this at the time, and in fact it has taken me years to get to the point that I am at today.
The ebb and flow of friendships, it is inevitable. At times we are hurt and take immediate action to "defriend" a person. Whether it be in real life or online, our reactions can be harsh and passionate. I know personally that if I feel someone has wronged me, hurt me, talked about me or not wished me well, I can be very dismissive.
I find myself more accepting of how people react to different situations, is it age or perhaps experience that encourages forgiveness. Perhaps Im more capable of seeing the larger picture. Im not sure of the reason but I like it. Im looking forward to connecting with my long time friend again. I no longer feel hurt by her actions. She did the best she could with the situation. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with her. Sometimes we can let go of things if we look at them through a different lens. Letting go of bad feelings is the ultimate freedom and path to happiness. It is not always easy and often challenging but the reward is worth the difficult journey. xo