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.