Happy Birthday to a Friend I Miss

It’s my friend’s birthday today.

Growing up, she was probably my best friend, though there was always drama. 

I fought for my friendship with her harder than for most.  There were many falling outs and lots of mistakes made, but I fought.  We taunted and teased each other and we stood together when we were taunted and teased by others. 

In some ways I think that my friendship with her was among the most UNhealthy that I’ve ever had.  I think co dependence was a big problem for both of us.  I know that I felt responsible for her well-being too often.  She was suicidal in high school, and I can remember feeling that I had to know how she was and where she was at all times because I just never knew what she was going to do. 

She could be wreckless–in relationships with guys, in the way she lived her life, in her flirtation with danger despite trying to be a ‘good girl.’   And that made her scary and captivating all at the same time.  She was one of the most vulnerable people I ever knew, but she fought that vulnerability tooth and nail. 

But there were good things too.  Until our senior year in High School she was my person to analyze everything to the minutiae with.

In grade school she was the only one who could make our imaginings the most real.  She stood with me in fifth grade when we were surrounded by a circle of taunters who wanted to crush our childlike sense of play before we were ready to let it die.

We spent hours on creek banks figuring out life as we grew up together–wondering about why our parents were so weird and when boys were going to start liking us.  And then wondering when boys were going to start liking me and how she could best fight the droves that swarmed around her off.  We waded through fields of wheat together talking about God… trying to figure out what it meant to be His child and to be loved by Him. 

She was wild and crazy and scared and skittish and I just loved having her in my life.

We promised with great fervor when we graduated that  despite the difficulties that separated us our senior year, we would be the kind of friends talked about in Michael W. Smith’s incredibly cheesy song.  We both cried all the way through the endless litany of ‘Friends are Friends Forever if the Lord’s the Lord of Them….” at baccalaureate.

We came home from college for our first break both changed.  We got together to visit.  And I said something wrong, or did something wrong, I’ll never really know what….  She excused me from our visit and excused herself from our friendship.  And I’ll always wonder why.

The year after we graduated from college we ran into each other once, we went out to dinner once.  We tried to find some common ground in the midst of awkward chitchat.  When my Mom died she sent a card.  When she had a baby, I sent a card.  I did my best to let her know that I valued her and her friendship.  I felt mostly met by a brick wall and pleasantries.

The relationship was never healthy.  It always stretched me thin.  It always caused conflict between me and other people. 

But she was my friend.

And today is her birthday. 

Happy Birthday, friend.  Wherever you are, I hope that you are well.  I hope that you are loved and know that you are loved.  I hope that the happy outweighs the sad.  I hope that you have made peace with your demons.  I hope that you are blessed.

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