When I wrote Reconnecting (Part 1), I had envisioned that Part 2 would be a follow-up post describing how the newly reforged relationship was faring. Since then however, another person from my past has reappeared in my life. I don't know what's going on in the universe.....
I got a phone call from an unknown number last week, which I promptly diverted to voicemail. Standard procedure for me.
A few minutes later, my phone beeped to indicate that I had a new message. I played the voicemail and heard a small and wavering voice on the other end. It only took a couple of words..."hey Mara"...and I knew who it was immediately. The message was long and apologetic..."sorry I stopped calling you....I miss you.."
The story about how I lost (or at least thought I had lost) this friend is similar to the one I told last week, except this girl and I go way, way, way back. I'm talking back to our days of diapers and pacifiers back.
We were best friends through all of our childhood. We spent our weekends joined at the hip, jumping on the giant trampoline in her yard, playing in the creek, tromping through the woods and tormenting her little sister who always followed us around. We shared everything from an innocent crush on Peter from GhostBusters to boogie boards on the beach in the summertime.
We were inseparable until middle school
That's when her parents decided that I was a bad influence on their daughter and forbade her from hanging out with me for a year or two. Of course we still saw each other in school until I moved to another town in eighth grade. Now in different schools, we started to make different friends.
By the time high school rolled around, we were in completely different "social circles" at completey different schools. That didn't matter. We still referred to one another as "my best friend." I went through many other "best friends" during this time, but she was a constant. Always.
She was there when I needed a shoulder to cry on after being verbally abused by my drug-addict father. She was there when I quit the soccer team because my interests had shifted from sports to weed. She was there all the times I got grounded for sneaking out of the house or stealing the family car. She was there when at age 15 I had to leave school and go to outpatient rehab. And, she was there during my final two years of high school when I continued to struggle with my to be clean. She was always there.
After high school, I went off to college and she didn't. It was my best friend's turn to lose herself in an altered state of concsciousness. Just when I was cleaning up my act, she was tumbling downhill. Fast.
I won't go into the details, but at her lowest, she was shooting heroin and stealing from her work. Actually, the stealing may be what saved her life. She got caught and was sentenced to probation and mandatory in-patient rehabilitation.
I tried to be there for her. I visited her when she went to the halfway house. I listened to her babble on about god and how if she could just give herself to him, she would be OK. I did my best to accept the ex-addict, ex-drug dealer, ex-homeless guy she claimed to love.
I tried until she stopped answering my phone calls. After a few months of not hearing from her, I got a card in the mail saying she loved me but couldn't be my friend anymore.
Maybe she sensed my disgust of the way she was placing her new-found faith in god instead of in herself. Maybe she knew I secretly hated her new boyfriend. Maybe she couldn't stand to see me doing so much better than she was. Maybe she wasn't doing better at all. Maybe she couldn't stand hanging out with someone she used to get high with. Maybe I'll never know her reasons.
It took me a couple of days to muster up the courage to call her back after hearing that voicemail. I wondered what I would say, what she would say, would it be awkard, until I finally just made the call.
She aswered the phone, "Hi. Mara?" Before I could say anything, she started talking: "There's something I have to say..." She told me she was sorry that she hadn't contacted me in years and that she really missed me and hoped I could forgive her for being a "bad friend."
I told her that I understood and that she could have waited 50 years to call me; I still would have picked up the phone and been happy to hear her voice. With those few words, 26 years of friendship were salvaged. No more apologies or explanations needed.