Also known as: On friendships, drifting apart and unnatural deaths
Today, I’m writing about friends, friendships, natural and unnatural deaths.
But first, two stories. True stories, but not written to condemn anyone, only to share (and hopefully make a point later on).
Story # 1:
I met her early college, on the first day of orientation, in fact. People like that, you hope to keep for life, especially because they were there at the start of a new stage of your life. We were good friends, and we stuck together almost like glue. When my shoe broke in school, she was the one who lent me a pair to use. We were friends for almost the first three years of college, until we weren’t.
I used to rehash the details of the entire messy fight over and over again to anyone who would care to listen, but now I don’t even care anymore. Yes, we fought. It was kind of one of those unexpected ones, especially given how we were such good friends. But things happen. We both said things. I know I said things. And there were so many people involved. When everything blew over, she was mostly mad at me and friends with everyone else she used to be not friends with.
It hurt. It sucked, big time, and for the next year, I felt bad about how everything turned out. I wanted to be friends with her again, but the years went on and it just didn’t happen. Ironically, when I started this job I have now, I ended up seeing her around the place I work, since she was also apparently working here. I held on to wishing that we’d be friends again for years, until eventually, I just let it go.
It wasn’t that I would never forgive her. I did. I just stopped pining over the friendship and hoping it would be fixed. I guess in a way, I stopped caring. I moved on. I’d like to believe she did, too. But even so, moving on didn’t mean our friendship will be back.
Story # 2:
I called her my best friend sometime before college ended. She called me hers, too. I considered her more than a best friend — she was the sister I never had. I wouldn’t have gotten back into community if it wasn’t for her insistence on seeing me. We talked for hours every time we see each other. We go to mass. We wrote notes to each other. We prayed, we giggled, we sang, we were practically inseparable during my last year of college. I told her about my other friend, the one in the first story, and she promised me that she would never do that. I would never leave you behind.
Then I graduated. She had one more term to go, but we all made promises of keeping in touch, of seeing each other again, of growing old as friends together, and our kids would be good friends, too. I held onto that promise, so much that I turned to her all the time, updated her with my life, made an effort to talk and see her often because that’s what best friends do, right? She even made several appearances in my novels in progress. She was the best friend.
She got into a relationship.
Nothing will change, I promise. She told me that. I was happy for her, I truly was. And I didn’t really figure her being in a relationship would be any problem, especially since I also know the guy. I was happy for them.
Then we started talking less. Seeing each other less. When we’d plan lunch and dinner with our other friends, she’d barely show up. She had always been more spontaneous than I am, but sometimes she did some things that unintentionally hurt. She stopped replying to my messages. I would call her but she wouldn’t answer. She forgot my birthday.
Those things I could forgive. Being best friends meant I would be there for her, I would sought her out, I would never give up. I was determined to keep on holding to our friendship, because that’s what best friends do.
Until came that day when I needed my friends the most. I needed her the most. And maybe it was my fault that I didn’t tell her exactly that, but I felt that as a friend, it shouldn’t have to come that way. I didn’t really have to say anything — after all, our house was being flooded. She knew that.
So I decided then, to move on. I can’t keep on waiting for her to catch up with my life. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t keep on caring when it was obvious that she didn’t. Or that she couldn’t care less. I can’t keep on making the effort when I don’t see the same. I just can’t.
It still saddens me until now.
* * *
I was thinking of those two stories this morning as I went home. I hate having friendship problems more than having love problems (or lack of love problems, but that’s for another post). Having love problems means you still have your friends, but having friendship problems doesn’t always mean that way.
I have long ago accepted that some friendships just die a natural death. Graduations, resignations, busy lives do that. People who you thought you’d be friends forever with at one point in your life end up just as names in your phone book or faces on your Facebook profile. You just end up having different lives, and it’s perfectly okay. People come and go. Friendships survive when people make a constant effort to keep it alive, but sometimes, even so, it just dies. It fades away. You drift apart. It’s normal.
But there are some friendships that die an unnatural death. These are the friendships that you never expected to end so soon. Friendships that snap, that leave people broken — be it both parties or just one. It could be a fight. It could be someone moving on without the other person. It could be a conscious decision of one person. These are the friendships that just die without no visible reason, and from what I’ve experienced, friendships that die this kind of death hurts. And it leaves people angry, bitter, and wondering what exactly happened. What went wrong. If anyone did anything wrong. If they could have done something right.
I know I’m not a perfect friend. I’m far from one. I’m not the friendliest person around. I say things to some friends and about some friends that friends shouldn’t do. I suck at keeping in touch. But guess what: no one else is perfect either. Everyone makes mistakes. But it doesn’t make friendships that die an unnatural death hurt less.
But like a romantic relationship, I think friendship also needs work. If you really want to be friends with someone, you’d make the effort to keep the friendship, yes? My high school best friend fell out of the radar back when we were in college. I was really hurt that he was absent for most of my college life, and he didn’t even explain why. When we graduated, I got to see him again and I found out why. Keeping in touch after was a bit hard, even if it was geographically easy. Until one day, we met up again. We caught up. You know how people say that you know it’s a true kind of friendship when it feels like nothing changed even if you didn’t see that friend for a long time? It was exactly that thing that happened to us, and I think our friendship is stronger than ever.
It takes effort. But when one stops giving the same effort in a friendship…well, what happens to the other?
Maybe it’s better off to let that friendship die. Perhaps it would be an unnatural death, but at least it stops people from getting hurt.
Sometimes the only good thing for you to do for yourself and your friend in that case is to let it go. Make new friends. Move on.
And maybe somewhere along the way, you’ll see that person and be friends with them again.