Monday, June 21, 2010

I Miss My Friend. Sometimes I Wonder What Happened to Her.


Rachel is my best friend during the years I live in Atlanta before EX and I break up. I meet her after I buy the grey Cape Cod in Midtown. My new neighbor knows her and introduces us. Instantly, Rachel and I are making plans. We are grown women having sleep overs like teenagers. We make midnight runs for hot Krispy Kremes. She and I like the same movies. She teaches me ribbon embroidery and we cook elaborate meals that we can’t finish. The art museum is free on Thursday and we go after lunch at a French themed cafĂ©. Rachel is the friend I have always wanted and needed. I laugh far more with Rachel than I do with my fiance and I spend New Year’s Eve with her when he insists on a boy’s night out. When Poppop June dies, Rachel sits with me, brings me a casserole and gives me the strength to write his eulogy.

“You can do it,” she tells me.

She thinks I look like a Lancome model.

“You are so beautiful. You are my most beautiful friend.”

And she tells me this at a time when I need to know that someone thinks I’m beautiful.

It is Rachel I think I will miss the most when I move to Florida. I beg her to come visit but she has a new boyfriend; a blind date that just happened to work out during the same week that EX and I ended it all.

I fly up for the winter wedding and am puzzled she didn’t ask me to be in her wedding party.

“You can read a poem during the ceremony,” she decides at the last minute.

We still talk weekly. I call her. One day in May she answers the phone squealing that she is pregnant. It seems too soon, like she is too young and I don’t understand her joy at all as I congratulate her.

Still, I monitor her pregnancy, which is troubled. She has a rare liver disorder and is ill, in and out of the hospital until her son is born healthy the next January and I can stop googling “cholestasis.” 

She emails me pictures and of course I understand when she can’t answer the phone each time I dial her number. When we talk, she sighs and I can hear her smiling when she talks about being a stay at home mother. 

The second pregnancy is just as challenging. The cholestasis returns and one frantic day I call all the hospitals in her city trying to find out if she is ok after receiving an email that she expects the worst, the baby is in danger and they are rushing to the Emergency Room. Everything was fine. I send the flowers I’d planned to send to her hospital room to her home instead.

The next year, when her second child turns one, I am getting married.

“I hope you can come,” I say, “It won’t be the same without you at my wedding.”

"I have two children now.”

“Well you can bring them or just fly down for the day and go right home. Your mom can watch them maybe. It’s really important to me.”

"Well, we’ll see.”

She doesn’t return the RSVP card so I call again.

“I told you, I can’t come to your wedding. I’m a mother of two boys.”

“I know. I understand. It’s ok, really. I’ll send you pictures and everything.”

“Sure, whatever.”

One of the children whines in the background.

“I would love if you could send me one of your paintings. Just a little one. I want a little piece of you in my home so I can always think of you when I see it,” I say.

She laughs, “Like I can paint anymore.”

“You stopped painting?”

"How do you expect me to have time to paint?”

"Oh, sorry. Maybe you can send me one of your old ones.”

"They’re all hanging in my son’s rooms.”

“Oh, ok. How sweet. I’d love if my mom painted and I had her pictures in my room as a kid.”

“Look, I have to go. The baby’s crying.”

She doesn’t send me a Christmas card or acknowledge the package of small gifts I send her, so I call on her birthday in January. There is no answer. I try for several weeks until finally, she answers, flustered.

“Rachel! Gosh, I’ve been trying to call your forever!”

“What?”

“Rachel, it’s me, WL.”

“I know who it is. I was expecting the doctor. I’m dealing with two sick kids here.”

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Is everything ok?”

“Look, you just don’t get it. I can’t talk to you.”

"Ok, sorry, well maybe I’ll call you another time.”

That is the last time we ever spoke.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

This echoes a worry I have every time a friend falls pregnant or impregnates someone with their first.

Green said...

My heart breaks for you. I understand re-prioritizing through different stages of life, but to totally drop a long-distance friend is harsh.

The Hill Family said...

That is so weird...I mean I am a full-time registered nurse, mother of three, with a husband who also has a full-time job and is in college full-time as well, and while a few friends have fallen by the wayside, my best friends are still around (even the ones who live out of town) and I still manage to make time for them, and my kids are four and under. So...it can be done. Makes me wonder if there is something more to her side of the story that you aren't aware of. Weird.

catherine said...

My theory is that maybe she wasn't as happy being a stay at home mom as she let on, and you reminded her of happier times when she wasn't chained down to a family. Some people just arn't cut out for the stay at home life, but do it because it's expected and are miserable because of it.

Anonymous said...

I have had the same best friend since 5th grade. We were always friends but there were times when we didn't see or speak to each other for months at a time. Every friendship has its hot and cold moments, but I have never had trouble re-connecting with her. We both knew we would always be there for each other even when we had other life priorities in the way. It makes me wonder if your friend is suffering from something.....or maybe its out of sight out of mind. She wasn't going to bump into you anywhere so why keep up the pretense that she has time for anything else than her family. Some women become obsessed with their children and their lives and everything from before motherhood is just a waste of time. IDK I'm sorry you had to experience that and I hope you have met someone that can not only fill her place but be a better fit.

Robin said...

I have many friends with children. Some continue to live their lives and simply integrate their children into what is already happening. Others disappear completely and stop having lives that don't revolve completely around the kids. I have no explanation for it.

CeeCee said...

It sounds like she was stressed and maybe regretting some of her choices (I'm sure she loves her children, but I know some people end up regretting having them so young) and she took it out on you.

I feel for you, though. Losing good friends without a good explanation is always hard. You are left feeling like maybe you did something wrong, but you can never confirm it or defend yourself.

Suffer Kate said...

Could it be depression? I had a particularly ugly version of the post-partum type, and if I hadn't been made to see a doctor, I might be suffering from it still. Sometimes depression can manifest itself like the description you gave.

Wide Lawns said...

The whole story, of which this is a vignette, is really odd. I have a few theories, but my feelings are still hurt.

In my life, there are 2 lost friends. One of them (A) has every right not to want to be my friend. Although there were some mutual hurts, I was mostly in the wrong.

The other friend is Rachel and I can't figure out what I could have done to offend her. It seems that she became very smug when she got married and had kids and simply felt that I, being single at the time and without children, just couldn't possibly understand her anymore. Obviously this is so not true because most of my friends were married and having kids and acting like normal human beings all along.

I also think she wasn't as happy as she wanted people to believe.

We have a mutual friend. This friend has children. I have asked the friend if Rachel did the same thing to her. She did not. I asked if Rachel was ok and if her sons were ok. Yes, everyone was ok. Does Rachel still call and come see her? Yes. I even straight out asked the friend what she thought Rachel's issue was and she said she had no idea and Rachel hadn't said anything, but she thinks Rachel was jealous of me.

I think Rachel could have been mad that I went to school for writing. She had always wanted to be a writer and never went to college. Her husband was adamant that she not work or do anything outside of the house and I think she felt trapped, although she would never admit it.

It's interesting to note that most of my other friends couldn't stand Rachel. They always said that Rachel was a drama queen and that she came off as very self absorbed in social situations. My grandmother couldn't stand her and said she was the most self-righteous girl she had ever met.

When Evil Ex and I had our breakup, Rachel didn't want to hear about it at all. She offered no support and said I had caused the whole situation.

The week of that break up, another friend, M suffered through the death of her fiance. Meaning, he DIED. Way worse than a breakup. In fact, I never even mentioned my break up to M but she heard about it and reached out to ME!! In her own suffering over a DEATH she reached out to me over a bad breakup.

Im lucky to still have friends like M. She and I are still very close and my life is better because I know her.

Maybe Rachel wasn't worth keeping around.

♥ Calamity Anne ♥ said...

Sounds like your "friend" never learned the fine art of juggling! What a shame.

Suffer Kate said...

Oooh, it does seem like jealousy more than depression. That's really awful, because I've found that as I get older, good woman friends are harder to come by. You're right, Madame Lawns; she WASN'T worth keeping around. For what it's worth, I had a friend of the same name who treated me similarly.

Deneen said...

I lost a couple of friends this way (I have chosen not to have kids). The funny thing was, I was happy for them--kids were something they had always wanted, and how can you be anything but thrilled when someone you care about gets something they want?--but one friend in particular took our last conversation as an opportunity to lecture me about how I would want kids "when I was more mature, like her." Twenty years later the memory of that conversation still stings.

Anonymous said...

this sucks that this happened to you. It happened in reverse to me; when I had my son, I lost some friends. I tried to plan things with them that did NOT involve children or me talking about my child. but, nothing. I stopped trying to get in touch after a while. Got the point but it took me a while. :-(

I'm sorry this happened.

Eric said...

What a great expression of the confusion and sadness of two friends growing apart.
This is part of life, unfortunate but part of the package

Maria said...

I can relate to this story so well. I just went through something VERY similar.
I learned the hard way that the best friendships require very little effort. I have some friends that I won't speak to for months and months and when we speak again we just pick up where we left off.

I let me Rachel go. I still think back on our friendship fondly. She was the best friend I ever had.

kerry said...

That sucks. I'm sorry. Sounds like a combination of jealousy, depression, and feeling trapped. Her husband wouldn't *allow* her to work or do anything outside the house? Dude. I'd go absolutely out of my mind if it were me.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick said...

It sounds like she is subconsciously eliminating anyone from her life who will remind her what she's missing. Having kids and being home with them full-time was awesome for me, but I never felt like I was unable to keep being smart and accomplished. Not true for many, many moms of young kids. It's really sad that she couldn't even at least try to maintain a friendship with you. She'll miss you in a few years.

Anonymous said...

Write a letter saying everything.. Accomplish sudden realisation.. x

Anonymous said...

What a biyatch!!!! =) You're better off without her in your life! Sounds like it was always about her anyway. I had friends like that in the past.

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