Posted by: Maryann McCullough | September 29, 2011

Story for October 2011

 

  

THE END OF A FRIENDSHIP

 

Maryann McCullough

 

The world seems designed for twosomes.

More often than not, we imagine couples, young and in love or old and contented.  But before, during, and after those marriage twosomes, there are the friendships of one woman with another that teach us how to give and to receive.

A good friendship can begin at age five or fifteen or fifty and, if real, this friendship will not have an expiration date.  The first steps (unplanned) begin casually with adjacent lockers or kids in the same playgroup, and then slowly like some architectural excavation a real image of the other emerges. A little digging, a little discovery, but never a hurried enterprise. The sharing of experiences and the accompanying laughter or tears act like stitches connecting two individuals. Now joined at the hip, the friends face the world and whatever it has to offer together.

I remember such a friendship.

Gradually, over time, there was a peeling away of defenses, an emotional nudity based on trust.  And it was comfortable – the nakedness of souls of two real friends.  Honesty, not perfection, was the essential gift to each other: a “warts and all” acceptance forming its core. Or so I thought.

 Much more than acquaintances, colleagues, or neighbors the relationship begun there had become so much more.  It was its richness and value in my life that made its ending such a sad experience. It was an investment gone bad. But a more painful one than stocks that have turned the wrong direction. 

Sometimes, when relationships die, there is some moment – a rift, a hurt (imagined or real) that precipitates the break-up of two former best friends. Then, with a gavel-like formality there is a final irrevocable moment when one recognizes the apartness as permanent.

But sometimes, there is no final irrevocable moment that at least provides some understanding. “Yes, we used to be friends.  But we are no longer because ….” And then there is a reason.  Without some serious reason, no one would take those years and experiences and toss them aside.  Too much work in building the edifice to knock it down without careful consideration.

The unexplained abandonment adds frustration to the pain of loss.

“I’m just moving on,” is her only response to an embarrassed “why?” And so it ends. No drama, just a quiet shuffling off to opposite sides of the stage; my puzzled face, hers masking a mystery. What future might it have had?

I have seen little cards that refer to friendship as a garden.  As one who is a gardener I agree.  Rocks and weeds and critters must be removed.  Plants must be watered and fed.  Time must be invested.  Work is involved.  When everything is nicely blooming, to abandon it seems so wasteful.

 But it isn’t just the future that is sacrificed here. Even the memories of happy times are now clouded with some gray overlaying mist. Present reality alters even the remembrance of a happier past: memories now an additional victim of a friendship’s demise.

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Responses

  1. A touching piece, Maryann. Every woman can connect with your words.


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