The embarrassing thing is that I didn’t know our friendship was over. I thought for a long time that my friend was just busy.
I thought that we didn’t get together because we lived almost an hour apart in our new duty station. I thought that the crazy sports schedules of our children put us on different fields talking to different mom friends. I thought that our jobs left very little time to get together.
Then I noticed that she never even had time for coffee. I noticed that I left a lot of messages that were never returned.
One day when I did go to see her, I made some reference to how rarely we saw each other. “Oh, we have time to see the people we want to see,” she said pointedly.
I had been dropped.
After more than a decade of friendship and new houses and seeing each other through deployment, I had been dropped.
We didn’t have a fight. We didn’t have a falling out. She just lost that lovin’ feeling for me and was not going to discuss it. All of the sudden, I was one of those people who had to learn how it felt to lose a friend.
Evelyn, a writer friend, was telling me that she learned to lose a friend. In one year, she lost three old friends. One she lost to death. One joined a sex cult. Another fell away when Evelyn became a lot more successful than she had been. Total friendship blackout.
“You haven’t done anything. They haven’t done anything,” Evelyn puzzled. “You find yourself asking: how many times am I supposed to call before I give up?”
With my friendship, I did the Christmas card test. I sent my Christmas card like always. Then I told myself to let the friendship be in her hands. If she wanted to call me that year, she would call. If Christmas rolled around again and I hadn’t heard from her in a year, that would tell me everything I needed to know.
That year hurt. It still hurts. Even though Christmas cards rolled in from other old friends, even though I made new friends, even though I had plenty of friends for all the things you need a friend for, I missed that friend.
Some friendships are meant to fade?Evelyn thinks that this might be just what friendship is like over time. Some relationships are just meant to last for shorter periods. You help each other with a certain time in your life and then that time is over.
“Some relationships just fade because they did their job,” Evelyn told me. “Sometimes you lose a friend.”
I don’t like that. Every time I pass my old friend’s exit, I feel like swerving down there to check and see if she might want to be friends again now. If she turned up on my doorstep, these past three years of silence would be nothing to me.
I hate to lose a friend, but sometimes a friendship just ... goes.