Deck the halls, carve the turkey, eat the sweet potatoes with mini-marshmallows, plop plop fizz fizz….the holidays are here.
In fact, this year, the holidays began the day after Halloween, when I saw shops putting up their Christmas displays. (I know, I know, it’s PC to call them holiday displays, but where there is tinsel, faux evergreen, and candy canes there is Christmas.) I do have a lot to be thankful for this year. I’m thankful for the things that we take for granted until we don’t have them anymore: health, a home, enough food. I’m thankful for my children. I’m thankful that even though the financial markets are in a mess, by the time I need money for my retirement, the market will (presumably) have recovered. I’m thankful for Spanx, Weight Watchers chocolate chip cookies, and for the fact that in a few short months the reign of error will end when George Bush leaves office for good.
All in all, not so bad.
So why, then, do I feel just a wee bit blue?
It’s because every year when the holidays roll around, I’m reminded of who isn’t in my life anymore: my old, childhood friend who, about five years ago, broke off with me without an explanation. After nearly thirty years of friendship — most of our lives — she just stopped talking to me or taking my calls. When, after several months of trying, I finally did manage to get her on the phone, she just said “People grow apart, it happens.” But only months before, we’d been talking at least weekly, if not more. So I know that something happened — I just don’t know what it is.
She was the kind of friend you can’t replicate: welived through our first crushes together, our first kisses, our first heartbreaks and jobs. We got drunk together for the first time, learned to drive together,(not at the same time!) went to Europe together, and to countless dinners and parties. We even went dancing at Studio 54.
In what I now think of as the last years of our friendship, we did grow apart. I was going through fertility treatments, then dealing with newborn twins, then battling some real blues after multiple miscarriages, so I know I wasn’t as “there for her” as I might have been. At the same time, she was having a rough time in her (now ended) second marriage. So maybe she felt I let her down. But like any long-term relationship, we’d always had our ups and downs. We had nearly thirty years of friendship behind us. I figured, that like always, it would swing back.
I figured wrong
It’s funny, we’re all conditioned to accept that romantic relationships may end — there are countless songs about “breaking up.” There’s an entire industry devoted to divorce. But whoever thought that I’d get dumped by a life-long friend? Where’s the song about that? (Although there is an anthology of essays:The Friend Who Got Away – which made me feel much better. Nice to know I’m not the only one.)
My friend didn’t have the greatest relationship with her own family, and spent many of the holidays with mine. So every year, when Thanksgiving rolls around, I think of her. Truth be told, even after all these years, I think of her every day. Some song will come on the radio, or something my kids do reminds me of something I did with her all those years ago. Almost 90% of my life had her in it. So much reminds me of her. But she’s made herself clear: I’ve called and sent cards, and attended the funeral of her father – and she’s not interested in reconciliation.
So I’ll just have to reconcile myself to life without my lifelong friend. I’ll have to focus on all the friends I do have — the women who I call on for a laugh, or an ear, or to check out the bargains at the latest sample sale. The women in my internet community who are so supportive even though (for the most part) we’ve never physically met. In time, those will be my thirty year friendships.
And that’s something to be thankful for.