Over the last 30 years of my life, I have had many friends. Sometimes they stick around and sometimes they come in and out of my life. I used to tell myself that people could only have so many chances with me and then I was done, but that is not my attitude anymore. I now think that people come in and out of our lives for many reasons. Sometimes it has to do with timing and geography and sometimes life circumstances make it hard for two people to remain close. I changed my attitude about friendships when I got sober, but I got to put my new way of thinking to the test recently.
When I was 24 years old, I met the girl who I consider to be the best friend I have ever had. We had our babies really close together. We spent all of our time together. It happened really fast but we became best friends. I think that friendships are the most important relationships in a woman's life and finding a best friend can sometimes be like falling in love. I was head over heels for this girl. I had never ever had a friend like her and to this day I never have again. I can safely say that I have two girlfriends who I consider my soul mates and she is one of them.
For about three years, we stayed as close as close could be. We finished each other's sentences, laughed often, watched shows that we didn't enjoy just to watch them together, she ran with me, and I cooked with her. We nursed each other's babies. I watched her get a divorce and I supported her as she came out of the closet. She called me every week when I went to rehab and she gave me a place to live when I moved to be closer to her. I watched her get sober and she watched me re-enter the dating world when my husband and I separated.
And then, one day, it all came crashing down. There is no blame. There is no reason. It just happened. Or maybe there is blame. Maybe there is a reason. It doesn't matter, though, because all of a sudden I didn't have a best friend anymore. I had left my husband and I survived, but I didn't really think I would survive losing her. I felt like I was adrift. I didn't have anyone to talk to or to laugh with except my son. I had lost the one person I thought would be with me on the day I died, having shared every step along the way. I'm not exaggerating when I say that losing my marriage was nothing next to losing my best friend. I felt true heartbreak.
But here's the thing: I will never like or love a man the way that I love my friends. I will never feel the fierceness, the devotion, and the strength for a romantic relationship that I do for the handful of women (and approximately three men) who I consider my best friends. I will never ever give up on my friends. I learned this because when I lost my best friend, I mourned deeply and I waited. I waited because I knew that I would be ready one day if she came back into my life and she did.
It took about a year from the time we quit talking and I don't know what the catalyst was, but I know that one day we started texting and I know that once we did we started making plans to see each other again. I know that we eased into it and we had to very delicately talk about what happened between us. I also know that one day it was just back. We have an ease together. We understand each other. We know how to talk to each other and how to ask questions and how to say things that we might not say to other people. We laugh together and we can cry together and we are, undoubtedly, best friends.
Here's the thing, and here is the reason that this is important: I could have closed the door. I could be writing another one of those "open letter to my former friend" posts, but I am not. I am not writing that because I don't have to and neither do you. People do not lose their value. People do not lose their connection. Their value may change as they experience life and as they grow and change, and they connection may change as these things happen as well. However, the choice to end a friendship is exactly that, a choice, and I chose to remain open to my friendship because it meant so much to me. I chose to accept the fact that there was a time in which my friend and I were not meant to spend all of our time together and I chose to take that time to learn and grow and to prepare myself to be better a friend.
I made that choice because I love her, but I also made that choice because I love the way I feel when I'm with her. I have no regrets, I only have love. Had I closed the door, I would have lost the chance to see one of the most meaningful people in my life become the happiest and strongest I have ever seen her. I would have lost the chance to see her babies grow up. I would have lost the chance to laugh and cry and love with her. I would have lost it because closing the door would have been my choice. Life is full of choices, relationships are a series of choices, and today I get to make the right ones. Thank goodness.