When I was 23 years old, I met Sunshine. She was 18 at the time I think, and her spirit lived up to her name. She was free spirited and loving. I was stressed out and cynical at the time, recovering from a horrible relationship. So she was like a breath of fresh air to me. We ended up hitting it off, and we became close friends. This was before the age of cell phones with texting, so we called each other and talked everyday. We used to go out dancing in Canada on the weekends, and would spend our days going for coffee and leaving silly messages on each other’s answering machines. We were there for each other through a few relationships, and we would chat until the sun came up at IHOP over coffee and pancakes.
We had wonderful times together, until she met her boyfriend, I’ll call Fred. Fred didn’t get me. He was a boy from a small town, from an upper class family, and he was very much an ass. I saw much less of my dear friend since she met him. I was a bridesmaid in their wedding, and that was pretty much the last I heard from her. Except one time, when she invited me over for lunch so I could see their new house. I couldn’t help but notice her lovely display of wedding photos on a table in her living room, that included everyone in their wedding party but me. I didn’t say a word, but I was hurting so much. I left her new home feeling like I would never go there again. It felt cold to me. So unlike the Sunshine I used to know. What in the hell was happening?
So, a few months pass, and she called to tell me she was pregnant. I was so excited. I loved the idea of being a part of her child’s life. Yet she was distant, and I could feel it. So, we arranged to get together so I could get to the bottom of it all.
We met at Olive Garden for lunch and I was nervous as hell. I was about to find out how she really felt. Why she had been so distant from me, why her tone during our phone calls had changed. So unlike her. So unlike us.
We sat across from each other, and I asked her the questions that have been burning through my mind for months, and my fears were confirmed. She admitted that her husband Fred didn’t get me, and he’d never feel comfortable with me being a part of their lives with their child. I felt like I was punched in the stomach. Was she serious? This woman that has known me and has been my friend for so long is not there for me anymore? She’s not fighting for our friendship at all? I sat there, crying into my unlimited salad and breadsticks, and feeling completely betrayed and completely broken. Sunshine was so special to me. She was the first real friend I ever had. And her pompous ass of a husband doesn’t approve of me. All I did was cry. And she sat across from me, showing me nothing at all.
I lost my friend that day. We never spoke again. It haunted me for years. I wrote her letters. Many letters that I never sent. Telling her how much she hurt me. I was angry. This lovely girl I once knew had turned into someone I didn’t know anymore. It took me a few years to finally let this go.
So, life went on, and I started to forget her and what happened. And she came to mind recently, about 10 years after our last encounter. I heard a song in a store at the mall that reminded me of her, so I decided to send her an email to say hello. She responded and we made plans to get together. We met for lunch, and it felt a little weird for me, but not as weird as I thought. We caught up and talked about our lives, and we laughed just like we used to. We had fun. Like no time had past. We hugged in the parking lot, and she promised to email me to get together again when her schedule freed up. I left feeling lighter. I had reconnected with my once dear friend, and we were both committed to nurturing our friendship again.
Well, we haven’t talked since that day, and it was months ago. No email, no text, nothing. Her words meant nothing, yet I’m surprisingly ok. I’m annoyed, but I’m not devastated like I was during our Olive Garden lunch date. Instead of feeling like shit by taking it personally, I just feel irritated. I want to say, “You’re doing this to me again?” Give me a break. She hasn’t spoken to me since that day, but I’m damned sure I’ll get a photo Christmas card of her “perfect family” like I have been for years. All four of them dressed up in red and white. Her gorgeous children and her “big fish in a small pond” husband. And her. Standing there with her fake smile and the image she has to live up to. That’s what’s left for me. Her image. The life she created with Fred that didn’t include me.
So, as I’ve gotten older and matured emotionally, I’ve decided not to take her actions personally. She’s living the life she’s chosen for herself and her family, and I’m not a part of it. Instead of feeling sorry for myself about this, I feel sorry for her. I’m a good and loving person, and a loyal and devoted friend. I know this for a fact.
So, goodbye, Sunshine. Just because we were close at one time doesn’t mean it’s always supposed to be that way. People come into our lives when we need them, and Sunshine was there for me and with me through some of the darkest times of my life. The dark times are over, and I’m ok. I’m not angry with her, and I’m no longer angry with myself. I don’t blame myself for what happened with us, which is good. I did that for a long time. I don’t need to carry that burden anymore.
So, when a friendship ends, it’s ok to mourn. I did, for a long time. Probably more than I should have. People come into your life when you need them. Sometimes, that’s not forever. If two people are willing to put in the effort, it will last. If not, it won’t. My memories of the Sunshine I knew are good ones. I’m grateful she was my friend when she was. I can’t change how our lives turned out, and I can’t make things as they once were. But I’ll cherish our history. And if she decides to email me someday asking me to get together, I’ll probably decline. There’s really no reason to try to fix something that will never work again.
And this is my lesson. Some relationships, even friendships, aren’t meant to last forever. Cherish what you once had and let it go. It will make room for the ones who are meant to be for you now.