Though I don’t remember meeting her, I can kind of picture how it went. We were on the same floor in the first dorm I ever lived in. She was peppy and bright and liked to swear with words it is still hard for my Christian girl mouth to put in that order and not feel like condemnation is coming. She helped me buy my first pair of American Eagle jeans by signing up for credit card just to save a few bucks. I still have those jeans, I took my first set of maternity pictures in them. We worked together at my first ever job that wasn’t at a Chinese restaurant, hung out late eating hot wings and avoided lame parties in favor of watching a movie on our laptops. She was the friend I was the most opposite of, the one who made me most uncomfortable and nervous. I could barely make sense of her sometimes because her life seemed so different from my own. And we disagreed a lot. I remember the first time we disagreed. Having grown up Christian, I really didn’t fathom that normal people were not pro-life. Here was my friend telling me she believed tiny babies should be allowed to be chopped up into tiny pieces because they are unwanted (yup that’s what we were told). This friend was the person who made me realize that good people existed on both sides of this debate.
The first time I failed her was my wedding. My husband and I started dating in between my freshman and sophomore years in college. We got married the fall of my junior year. The college we attended required us to study abroad and my friend was going to leave for a semester right over my wedding. I still mull over what I could have done differently. Had I cared less about what my parents and his parents thought I could have postponed the wedding and moved in with him for a year so she could be there, but I know that wasn’t us. Also, I just wanted to be married. I was ready and I wanted to get it over with. But sometimes when I look back on the friendship we have had, I think of that and I wish I could have made it better.
After that, it was simple stuff-some big, some small. We didn’t keep up with each other a lot. She came to visit and I stupidly asked her to church forgetting that would make her uncomfortable. She wrote letters, I was never very good at writing back. She got divorced and I didn’t even know until it was finalized. Having not known the circumstances of her divorce I stayed Facebook friends with her ex and actually talked to him more than I talked to her in recent years. Taking offense when she called me ignorant and selfish over something silly like vaccines. It’s easy for me to make excuses for myself. To say that for her to ask me to postpone my wedding a year for her was selfish, that she didn’t tell me about her divorce or that she was uncomfortable with my remaining friends with her ex, that I don’t hold onto other people’s grudges, or that she shouldn’t have been insulting my character instead of my ideas. It’s easy to say those things, but sometimes I wonder if it’s really my doing that we aren’t really friends anymore. I miss the fun times we had together, but they are long gone. Sometimes it makes me sad, but sometimes I think of my kids never having met her and shrug. I only have so much energy to beat myself up over things, and I save that for the humans who depend on me for everything. The rest of my shortcomings matter less and less as time goes by. Sometimes these things just don’t work out, but losing a friend is never easy.