I was grateful, brutally honestly grateful. I said thank you and you didn’t blink. “That’s what friends do”, you said. I felt that warmth, compassionate warmth. You went out of your way to help me and you didn’t have to. “Again, that’s what friends do.” 

Friends. I was 15, you were 20. Dating a friend of mine. Until you weren’t. We lost touch. I saw you again, you took up for me when he started hurting me. I found you days later to say thank you. “That’s what friends do,” you replied. 

We kept in touch and when your father died,I hurt with you. I was grateful you wanted me there. As I held you, you finally let go of the tears you were storing. Oh, my heart absolutely broke for you. Our tears mixed. I didn’t want to let you go. “I love you” you whispered, and I knew you meant it. Our friendship ran that deep. When you called to say thank you for being there, I replied, “That’s what friends do.”

Over the years, we kept in touch. Me at your place, you at mine. Oh, how you could make me laugh! We could spend hours just being in each other’s company. Didn’t even have to talk. The silence between us was like a favorite blanket. Just to know you were there, physically there. I think we started off friends until we were fast friends. One of the nighbors and I became fixtures at our respective places. She moved but still kept in touch. She had a new guy now and was anxious for me to meet him. It was you. (My favorite blanket). Preparing to go out one night, everyone walked out but for some reason you pulled me back, yelling we’d be right there. Pulling me in your arms for a breathless kiss left me so excited and tingly. That night at the club you only wanted to dance with me. I drank so much I couldn’t dance anymore. Your girl didn’t have room at her place for me to crash, but you did. I remember being so comfortable as tucked me into your bed. I begged you not to leave me, to lay down beside me. I think I let go of my resolve and passed out as you pulled me into your arms. I felt so safe. When I woke up, you made coffee and breakfast. I was wearing one of your Tshirts – nothing else. “Did we- um, did you….?” You leaned over and kissed me on the forehead (really? Who does that?) and quietly told me, no, he didn’t and we didn’t. We just slept. “Besides, I want you fully engaged and awake if ever….” I will never, possibly never, ever forget that moment. As I thanked you for taking care of me again, you said, “That’s what friends do.”

Years and tears go by, faster and faster. I had moved three times, you had moved more than that, but you found me. When I answered the door I practically leapt into your arms. You were there to tell me of a son being born and to tell me you were moving out of the country. I’m not sure what passed over my face, because you pulled me against you whispering, “I’ll always be in your dreams and when I get back….” I moved twice after that. I often thought of you and you did visit me in my dreams. A few years ago we found one another again.

Yeah, it was same song and dance. You took it hard, almost personally when I told you how my life had been going. “Baby, you can do so much better,” you said. “He doesn’t love you, you know, he can’t possibly….” I felt trapped. I was so beat down all I could do was shrug. “I’m scared. I’m scared this is all there is.” You sat down, pulled me onto your lap and held me while I cried. I told you everything – even the parts that made me look bad because I knew you’d never judge me. Years later we found our way back.  That night you called me and I gave you the latest – the restraining order, my attempt at leaving this world, the quiet loneliness being on my own. I heard you breathing, the next I heard the pain in your voice. “Baby, don’t. Don’t leave me. I would never get over losing you.” 

You knew the next time you called what to look for, and you found it, and even being hundreds of miles away, I heard your heart break. “Hang on, please, for me,” you urged. “But you’re married again!” I wailed. “Really? Since when has that ever stopped how we feel about one another?” The next thing I know is my friend Nolan standing over me. “Wha-how- what are you doing?” He explained who contacted fire and rescue, and picks me up to put me in the ambulance. Asks me if it’s okay to go with me, I say yes, it would be nice to have a friend with me to tell me what’s going on. He tells me again who called him and says that he understood you say we’d been friends over decades. Looks at me for confirmation. “He is a helluva friend.” I start to cry. He tells me everything is gonna be okay. Yeah, because that’s what friends do. 

Weeks later I contact you on Facebook to say thank you again. Yes I’d already called you twice but this was a public declaration. I say how I am so grateful you’d been there every time I stumbled, fell even. And that my family is grateful. 

Ooh, did things get nasty in a hurry. Your wife blasted me for saying “I so heart you, my friend,” she told me only HIS WIFE, children, grandchildren and your mama was allowed to say “I love you” to you. Really? I’ve said I love you before you had ever met her! That day in the rain, sitting with you in the limo after your dad died. I explain we’ve been friends since upset her, said I’m sorry I upset her, and that losing my mom like I did, no longer would I take friends for granted, for we aren’t promised tomorrow. Right back I get: really? You are playing THAT, after you tried to end all your tomorrows? Again I gently explain I cherish my friends and I’m sorry I upset her, but attacking me was uncalled for. I finish with ENOUGH. Her reply was yeah, enough, they don’t  need my problems and for me to stay the hell away, and ended with “you fucking bitch, you’ve been cancelled!” She blocked me from your page. Ah, well…Oh, we were friends before Facebook, before the internet, confused woman. Our friendship has criss crossed over oceans, spanned through your dad dying and my mom dying. Over countries. Let her have this time because we always find our way back. We always do. That’s what friends do. 


Act 2: No Regrets

I wish I had told her I’m sorry. I wish the last time we spoke wasn’t in anger. Try as I might, I cannot break free. I wish we could have shared instead of giving her all the blame. I wish she could see me stand up for myself, and see a part of her in me. What’s done is done. 

I see her in Amy, the ability to say whatever she’s feeling. I see her in Phyllis, that need to do and do for someone until they’re exhausted. To make sure everyone has what they need before you think of yourself. I see her also in Mike, the courage to always stand together with conviction, even if later they turn out to be wrong. 

Mostly Amy, the “take no prisoners approach”, that tough outer shell, the fighter. Well, the hell with you! I still can hear that. Or telling someone (and not being afraid to) off with utter disgust. “Dumbass!”

Scrappy was the word my friend described me as. Brutally honest, he said. If he knew if he knew the drama unfolding in my head, where I can’t tell someone really how I feel. Sure, I will, but if I even get an inkling that that’s not what they want to hear, I will apologize before the person can even process what I’ve said. I didn’t use to be like this. I’ve lost me along the way. I see myself in T’s warmth and understanding, and the fact we’ve been friends most of our lives and she knows me like she knows the back of her hand. I see myself in C, always doing what is right instead of what we really want, because, what would our family member/neighbors/co workers think? 

Oddly, I think it’s when I’m whiny and bitchy over my health is when I’m most like her. When I get compared negatively to her I come out with claws and teeth..nothing will piss me off faster! I see her in me when I have taken so much, and I refuse to take anymore. I die a little each time when he wouldn’t or couldn’t even try to see my point. Frustration build and builds. I can keep silent, I can scream and cry until I’m hoarse, it’s all the same. I feel beaten down. 29 years of this continuing behavior. 

Trying to get someone to see your point of view when they’d rather you shut up and stop blocking the game (TV, really) or refuses to consider my view is a whole ‘nother level of frustration. 

I had a thought late late last night, that it really does take a lot of courage to walk away from something that will never change. Funny, I kept thinking of Robin Williams as Mork trying to free the chicken in the egg, he’d say “Fly! Be free!” before he threw the egg and it landed with a splat on the countertop. Did he feel guilty? Nope. So I thew my marriage with giving both him and me freedom. Not my fault he splatters. I’m not going to. Currently searching for my wings. I may not ever find them, but I AM free.

I deserve someone that will think of me, consider my feelings – always. I won’t settle for less. I shouldn’t, nor should anyone expect me to.

*I don’t care what the neighbors say, I’m gonna love you each and every day! (Page/Plant)*

See mom, I SO DO think of my neighbors. But I think of myself more. I don’t care if they can hear me, my need to express how I felt in that moment was greater than all my neighbors consideration combined. 

This is my second act. If I’m selfish then so be it. I gave up who I was for 29 plus years. I’m going to find her. She’s in there, and this will be her time. 

Look Around (Life Just Passed You By)

For LueAnn

Always in a hurry, cram as much ‘today’ into today. But, suppose one takes time, to absorb, for quiet contemplation, be as ‘one’ with your surroundings. What’s more memorable? A special day when I said and did this and you replied in words and actions or a blur of so many instances? 

There are no second turns. Do you get to know someone as you’ve dragged them around to see as many things as possible? I’d say no. All you are getting to know is my-feet-hurt, my-back-hurts, I’m-tired, hungry, thirsty. And really bitchy. If you want to know someone, please slow down. Life is not a race. Slow down, none of us are getting out of this alive.