Shirley Harring

food, words and images

Losing my Best Friend

Dear friend,

I don’t know why you left me. I don’t know what happened that turned you away.

I don’t know the thought processes that went in to making the decision you made.

I don’t know if you agonized, rationaled, or seesawed with emotion, or if you simply said ‘over’.

I don’t know if you were led, deceived or misinformed. I don’t know if there were preceding events, or if I simply failed in meeting your expectations.  I don’t know if I let you down.

I simply don’t know.

I do know we were friends – closer than sisters – for over 30 years.

And then we weren’t.

From the age of 6 and 8, respectively, you and I, we were almost inseparable. From the day your brother knocked over our back fence so we could talk without peering through the pickets, we were peers. We danced. We laughed. We kissed boys. We sang to the same bands, our hairbrushes synchronised with our hotpants as we emulated Agneta and Annifrid,  Dancing Queens.

I knew when you first had a boy friend. I knew when you first did it, and was both at once startled and stimulated when you did it again. I mopped up the pieces when he broke your heart.  You cried, I cried, then we went to see Grease and ate malteasers and ice cream.

You taught me to shave my legs, pluck my eyebrows and inhale without coughing. I taught you how to do your hair so it covered your ears.

I was there when you first shoplifted. You were there when I had my first period. The rites of passage, we shared together, first you, then me, but always together.  I was there when your sister hit you. You were there when my dad hit me. I yelled at your sister. You yelled at my dad. Together we vowed – no one would hit us when we were adults. No one.

We were so brave.

I do know the exact moment when I realised that you had gone.

It was there, in the funeral home.

The first time we had been in the same place, at the same time, for over a decade.  We were there because we had both lost the same somebody. You walked towards me, my arms raised, ready for the warm hug I had missed. Yes, you returned the embrace – but it was cool, perfunctory, brief.

It confused me.

It was like being hit.

I looked for solace in your eyes, but your eyes didn’t want to look into mine. They darted away of their own accord and busied themselves watching nearby relatives.

I could have asked.

You could have told.

But neither one of us were brave.

I’d been gone for a long time. 15 years goes by so quickly when life gets in the way. You had married again, your girls – the ones that learned to walk in my house –  are now fully grown, beautiful women.  I  had a child, creating life at around the same time as you were setting teenagers off to find their own wings.

I always was that few steps behind you.

I just didn’t realise the gap had grown so damn wide.

That was three years ago, friend. It’s taken me this long to write you this letter. I didn’t know the words. I didn’t understand the feelings. I guess, also, I hoped that if I let it be, it wouldn’t be broken.

But it is.

I don’t know how to fix it.

But I do know one thing.

I miss you.

x

First appeared: iviilage May 2013

17 Comments

  1. I’m in tears. It was like being there and feeling the raw emotion.

  2. It’s hard when this happens. Something similar has happened to me. She’s in a different country so I haven’t come across her. I’d love to know but figure it’s her issue, not mine.

  3. Wow, this has touched a nerve with me for reasons that I cannot go into, Shirley. Nice post.

      • Shirley, I wrote a little poem in 1995 when I knew a friendship I’d enjoyed had ended, without rhyme or reason… may I share it with you?

        Once

        – we shared laughter
        and happy times,

        private thoughts
        and girlish ideas

        Then
        time passed
        and, somehow, things changed

        – past giggles and chatter
        became strained conversation
        over murky coffee,
        masked smiles and uncertain words:

        ‘glad I caught up with you – keep in touch!’

        the parting wave
        confirming
        the death of a friendship.

  4. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a broken relationship that you didn’t want to be broken, such as a romance, friendship, family fallout would understand the confusion and hurt you are feeling. It is not something that is easily pushed aside when you continuously ask yourself “why?” and no answer is forthcoming. I feel your pain and wish that I could take it away from you. It sucks, it totally sucks.

    • Thanks, AE. I find writing a cathartic form of closure. After a three years of mental ping pong on ‘why’, this is my way of laying it to rest. Thank you for appreciating my words. x

  5. I feel your pain too…my bestie since boarding school just exited out of my life when we were about 40. An indescribable pain, months of unreturned phone calls, lots of unanswered questions. A Godson that I never got to see grow up. I will never understand or really know why. I still miss her every day 8 years later. Xx

    • Sorry to hear that, Susie. There’s been a lot said for letting go of people from the past who carry weight, or have let you down – or simply been outgrown. But to be on the other side of the fence without explanation or understanding… requires grieving time, I think.

  6. Hi Shirley,
    As always, you find the right words to describe the loss of a beloved friend. I hope that your friend sees this – it is beautiful and poignant.
    Sometimes I find that when I write it down it helps me sort out my feelings about whatever I am feeling. Thanks for sharing this personal journey.
    Warmest regards,
    Anna

  7. I used to wear all the pain, misunderstandings, and confusion of relationships with friend/family members to the point where it made me sick …only to eventually realise that if the other person wasn’t able to tell me what was going wrong, I couldn’t ever take responsibility for it. And so it becomes their issue. Celebrate the memories of those great milestones in relationships, and grieve its passing of course. It’s sad to wish her well and walk away, but perhaps inevitable and not ever your fault.

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