Monday, April 17, 2006

Friends and Enemies

Friends

I've had a lot of friends in my life and many who I've called my Best Friend. "Best friend" is, for me, a special category with levels. I've had many BFs over the years, for widely differently ranges of time. When I was 14 I had a glorious BFriendship that lasted one day. I had flown to visit my grandparents and other family in California and they took me to Six Flags Magic Mountain. My second cousin's boyfriend brought his daughter Tory, who was also 14, and I think from Alaska. We had never met before and have never seen each other again. But that day was glorious and I will never forget it. We were like soul mates and loved each other dearly that day. We went on dozens of rides and talked and talked. We both loved Normandy Rose jeans. We met up with my family WAY past our curfew to go home and got in deep doodoo. It was fantastic. I miss you Tory, wherever you are.

On the other end of the BF scale is a short list of individuals who have been my BF for many years, or perhaps not many years, but the closeness warrants an honored position. My sister Mia is almost six year older than I and she and I used to be enemies when I was a bratty eight and she was a mean 14. Now that we're both obnoxious pre-menopausal women, we are best friends.

My all-time top of the list best friend has been in that position for over twenty years. We went to academy together. We were roommates, five girls in one small room. I occupied the middle position (earth) of a three-tiered bunkbed, my friend I'll call Henry (because that was my nickname for her years ago) was in the bottom (hell) and another girl on the top (heaven). We shared so much during those years, and it was a truly major and pivotal time for both of us. After graduation we stayed close despite her moving to Southern California (I in Oregon). She went to my college graduation and my wedding. I went to her college graduation and wedding. But as we both started families, and life got busy, our communication diminished.

While our drifting has been both our faults, I take the blame for not trying harder. I didn't call enough. I forgot to send thankyou's to every gift she sent. I am very sorry for that. I wish I could take it back.

I had hoped that one day, when our young 'uns were grown, that we would renew our friendship and I've dreamed of traveling to exotic places with her, we talked in the past of doing medical volunteership together.

But it's not to be. She has chosen to cut off the relationship and I went for two or three miserable weeks trying to stay in denial. It can't be true, I thought, 20 years, it's like sistership, you can't just not be sisters! Once I came to, I wept hard.

I have written her a letter I will send tomorrow. I apologized from my heart. I requested an appeal, but without desperation. I also gave her the choice (not that it's mine to give) to either cut if off completely, as she appears to wish, or that we just separate for now with hope for the future.

When Nikki died last week it made me think -- what is all this stupidity about? Why would we give up a friend? People die and you can't get them back. I don't want to give up my friends. You all are too precious.

Enemies

When I was in elementary, I had an enemy I'll call Connie. The weird thing was that she was sometimes my friend. Our houses were a few blocks apart and sometimes we'd play together. But in my memory she was a bully and said terribly mean things to me. I hated life in elementary. She left when I entered seventh grade and while school life wasn't peachy (adolescence was a generally horrible experience), it improved.

All my life she went in and out of my thoughts. I wondered where she was and what she was doing. Did she have a family? Most of all, I wondered if she was still mean.

Today, something truly bizarre occurred. Image you had some kid you went to school with, and you hadn't seen them since you were 12. Never heard from them again and had no idea what happened to them. Suddenly, one day, their name and phone number appeared out of virtually nowhere. This is what happened to me.

Last week I drove by Connie's house since I was in that area. I hadn't seen it for years. Then this weekend, my mom and I talked about her and her family for the first time in years. Then today a totally incredible and seemingly random series of events occurred and suddenly I saw her father's name in my computer (I hadn't looked him or her up). I was astounded and thought maybe it was same name/different guy. But then I saw her name and her phone number. I can't tell you how shocking it was. The odds are unbelievable.

I wavered as to what to do. Do I call? Do I let it alone? What if she's mean and the call is a huge mistake? What if she's not mean? I prayed about it. I decided to call, although I was very nervous. I decided if she didn't answer, then it wasn't meant to be. She answered.

"Um, is this Connie? Used to be Connie Smith?"

"Yes." Suspiciously.

"Um, this is Sheryle." And I added my maiden name.

Silence. I about had a cow. It was a mistake. She hates me. Why did I call? I remembered the times we were friends and decided to keep going.

I explained the incredulous way I'd gotten her number. I asked about her father. She finally said that she'd thought about me all her life. She told me that her elementary years were absolute hell and that I had been the main reason for it, because of the terrible things I'd said to her. I took this amazingly calmly. Then I realized something astounding. She had always thought I was the bully!!! What a twist of something I had considered truth and reality all my life.

I told her that I was sorry, truly deeply sorry, for anything I said or did to her as a child, and I'd hoped she would forgive me. She did forgive me and she asked forgiveness herself, which I readily gave. She's nice! She grew up to be a nice woman! We talked each other's families and exchanged email addresses before hanging up. An enemy now a friend.

Is there someone you knew as a child or even up to young adulthood with whom you've lost touch? I'm not going to add anything sappy here like to try to get people to contact old acquaintances. Sometimes it doesn't turn out nice. But those kids you have horrible memories of may have grown up to be totally different people. Maybe even decent and kind.

I believe that phone number didn't land in my universe coincidentally. God made it happen. I now have a peace that I didn't have before and I think Connie does, too. My hope is that all my life events, whether good or bad, losing friends or gaining them, will not embitter me but ennoble me. I hope to make a difference of kindness and compassion in my life and be known for that when I die, like Nikki is, not for any thoughtlessness or cruelty I have done. God help me.

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