The Spirit of Friendship

As I get older (we’ll say 40-something), I notice my circle of, and time for, friendships is getting smaller. Time is so precious in this plane of existence, we should all want to spend it with people, doing things, worthy of that preciousness.  I’m not saying there are people unworthy of my time and energy. Everybody here, in this existence on Earth, is a child of the universe. Every last one of us is stardust, and though we all may be created the same on the molecular level, what we choose to do in our time here is individual… our thoughts, actions, dreams, and desires.  We seek out others who connect with those things at different times in our lives.  These connections are often finite, lasting only for a period of one’s life. The rare relationships are there for a lifetime and are often comprised of blood relatives.

People come in and out of our lives as our (and/or their) thoughts, actions, dreams and desires change. It’s often brought about when we find some aspects of life have become more important than others. Growth only occurs with change. It doesn’t occur when everything is (see my finger quotes here) “good”. There is no growth in the comfort zone, and we leave that zone by changing up the closest relationships in our life.

I count myself lucky and most blessed to have had a great number of friends in my lifetime; there are so many people in the moment I enjoyed being with “right here, right now”. I have a couple of people I’ve somewhat kept in touch with from school days. I have a close friend who saw me out of the (self-created) hell of my first marriage. I have several friends I made near the end of the 90’s through 2010″ish”; mostly through my careers in tech and travel or through my significant other at the time. I stay in contact with most via social media, but I have personal/real-life contact with only a few. I have a core group of female friends founded around 2003″ish”. Though I was the oldest in the group, we were all at a similar place in space/time for a few years (that should speak volumes about my maturity, or lack thereof). We found comfort, courage, and unquestioned love when we were with each other. I was lucky enough to get to live with a few of them over the years, and our place always seemed to be the place where everybody got to hang out. **Note: Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” just came on my Spotify shuffle. I love synchronicity. 

Our group of a dozen or so women have gone in different directions over the past 14 years, but there are still several I’ve kept a connection with. They are the old roommates and party gals. They know the secret me, the me who never had to wear a face or attitude different from the one I was born with when I was around them. They accepted and loved me for being me, and I felt the same about them. I always felt at home with them. I figured we were sisters for life. Every time I would move away, I always knew I had them to go back to.

Then came American politics. During the elections last year, I began to learn some things about a couple of friend’s viewpoints that were quite disparate from my own. I think part of the problem rose as I couldn’t quite fathom their endorsement of a candidate who is so obviously NOTHING like them. I’m usually an empathetic person, I can reason and find myself walking in another’s shoes, especially my friends. But I didn’t get this. And because I couldn’t get it, even with their “reasoning”, which didn’t sound like reason at all, I made it a point to avoid the subject all together. They didn’t, and I would ask them not to talk about it when we were together, for the sake of our friendship. It was that whole, “we’ll agree to disagree” bs that never really works when the subject contains individual moral fundamentals.

Fast forward to the week post-inauguration. I made a smart-ass comment (yes, me) about the current president on a personal social media page. My old friend replied with a meme suggesting that nothing the president signed would have any effect on anyone I know. In fact, something he signed just days before had a direct effect on a co-worker, and I made it a point to call her out for it.  In my anger-at-the-ignorance-of-it-all, and I’m sure a nice stroke to my ego, I ended the call out with an f-word epithet about fascism. The argument spiraled from there with others getting involved, but those were the last words said (or written) between us. Friends from both sides jumped into the fray, and it was on like a bad Jerry Springer episode. It became so hostile, I deleted the entire post as soon as I saw what it had devolved to.  We don’t understand each other, and we don’t have the vocabulary, individual experience, and ultimately the desire, to do so. My friend and her family members proceeded to publicly berate and shame me on a family member’s page with name-calling, etc… My daughters saw it and were angry and pretty confused. These women were like “aunties” in their lives. They wanted to lash out and tell them to stop calling their mother names. I explained to my daughters why it wasn’t a good idea to put that kind of negative energy out to the universe. I used parables, turning the other cheek, blah, blah, blah… I also made it abundantly clear that any retort, especially on social media, was simply not my style and completely beneath me. Inside my heart was breaking into a million pieces at the sheer meanness being directed at me from people I loved and trusted. My closest lifelines were gone; people who turn like that are no longer considered friendly territory. My allies in life went m.i.a. I often wonder if they felt the same.

Six weeks prior to my closest friendships unwinding, my roommate/long-time partner/friend lost his best friend of 30 years to a vicious murder. The killer is still at large, so healing has yet to begin for the victim’s family and close friends. My friend lost his lifeline, his brother from another mother. They saved each other many times over the decades from this or that relationship or situation; they were “that friend” who you can always rely on to help you out of a jam and get things straight again. Now he’s lost him because of another’s self-indulgent violence. There again, I cannot find the understanding or empathy for the person taking what was one of the brightest shining lights in this world from his family and friends.

I often feel guilty mourning my lost friendships because those people still walk around, live their lives, enjoy their children and relationships… just not with me around. My guy’s friend can’t do those things since he was found dead in his bedroom by his child just before Christmas, and the toll it’s taken on my partner’s soul is immeasurable. Knowing who is behind the killing – yet currently free – makes the situation only more horrendous. It makes my “loss” seem unimportant enough to put inside quotes. I’ve been wrestling with these thoughts and feelings for months now. I’ve been meditating and praying (and crying) for quite some time about our situations. I’ve never once hated or said an unkind word about my former friends. I was hurt as hell, but I let them go with love, reasoning that it was just time for somebody to move from the comfort zone.

In this time, I’ve realized the spirit of the friendships with our lost loved ones is the same. They were our lifelines. They were the ones we trusted enough to call for help in the lowest times of our lives, and we would always be there for them in the moment they called out for it in return (and once in a while, even before they called). They were our best friend. Our break-up buddies. Our drinking buddies. Our wingman. Our one phone call. Our lookout. Our backup. Our counselor. Our truth-giver. Our sister and brother.  Always our home. No matter the circumstances, they were suddenly, most surprisingly, gone from our lives.  Circumstances may be wildly different, but feelings of loss are similar.  The moral of the story is to just be decent to each other. No one here gets out alive, and after all, at the end of the universe, we’re all just stardust.

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