When my ex-fiance and I broke up in 2000, my good friends stuck by my side.  Even though it might have been easier for everyone to cancel their trips and stay at home, almost all of them came with me to Las Vegas for my "bachelorette" party anyway.  Their presence spoke volumes about our friendship.  My friend Joslyn, who wasn't even going to come to the party, changed her plans and came - it seemed even more important to her to stick by my side through my heartbreak than it was to stick by me when everything was good and happy.  I remember sitting at the restaurant dinner table with this wonderful big group of ladies and feeling the power of friendship - because friendship can be powerful.  I felt so lucky to have these people in my life to lean on during what was for me, a very challenging time.  Most of these people are still in my life.  Most of them have been there for me over these past two extremely difficult years as well.  That trip was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  I will never forget how those ladies came through for me and made me feel so loved and appreciated.

 Dinner in Vegas 2000

Champagne breakfast after a long night of winning at the Craps table

A million dollar donor to the organization I work for has told me the story many times about how years ago, he lost everything, and friends, colleagues and organizations he had given generously to through the years just ditched him.  Those who stuck by his side left an impression.  When he was financially broke, he learned who his friends were.  It's one of the reasons that JNF got a million dollars from him when he rose back to the top again.

I wasn't and am still not always easy to be around.  I am broken and can never be fully repaired.  I am not as fun as I once was and I know that I am scary - what happened to us could happen to anyone and being so close to us is a constant reminder of that.  In the earlier days of my grief, I wouldn't leave my house, I wasn't up for going out - I worried about potentially seeing babies and anyway, the world I once knew was colored black.  Some friends who came to Maxie's funeral and/or shiva checked in once or twice afterwards, never to be heard from again.  Other friends just made me feel bad all of the time, telling me that it was time to get over him, pushing an impossible agenda of recovery way too soon.  There are many I haven't heard from since the loss.  Some of those friends are just starting to emerge, assuming that I am better now and probably easier to be around.  I'd like them to know that I am still broken.  Max is still (and I assume will always) be on my mind constantly.  If you were uncomfortable with me before, you will likely still be.  I am not unforgiving but I'm over the friendship we once had.  You don't need to come back into my life.  I am fine with how things are between us now.  I'm not angry either.  I've just moved on.

You see, to me, friendship is not just about picking a happy person to have good times with - although that is extremely important to me too.  Friendship is about sticking by someone's side even when life is hard - because life will be hard for all of us in varying degrees at some point or another.  Good friends are the family you choose.  They are people that you can lean on and that you expect will lean on you too.  I want the very best for every one of my friends but recognize that they have challenges that they face every day and may not have everything that I want for them or that they want for themselves.  Life can be very disappointing - friendships don't have to be.

I don't really want back the friends I lost when Maxie stopped breathing.  The friendships that endured are stronger than ever and the other ones don't matter anymore.  They are the superficial ones - the people that I will say hello to - that I will "catch up" with - and that I may share a few laughs with - but they aren't the people that I want to move forward with.  They aren't the ones I love and trust.  I wish them well but I know who they are to me now....and that's ok.

Those friends that stuck by me mean more to me today than they ever did.  The ones that kept calling even when I didn't want to talk, that emailed and texted, that dropped off food, that visited with me here at my house when I was up to it, that continue to let me move at my own pace, that recognize I am not the same and don't try and pressure me into being the person I once was, that consistently remind me that they will never forget my sweet Max, that came out of the woodwork after years to tell me that they are so sorry for our loss when others who we saw on a regular basis ran away.  I love them.  SO MUCH.  I LOVE YOU MY DEAR LOVELY FRIENDS.  Thank you.

1 comment

Kirstin O'Gorman said...

On Friendships, Pain, and moving on:

"Healing does not mean the pain never existed, it means the pain no longer controls our lives."

I went through a very difficult time in my life and I was shocked to learn who my real friends were. I was even more shocked to realize what friends I had surrounding me. In my case, it was the least likely person in the world who "showed up" for me when I needed a friend the most.