I don’t know what made me do it, but her name popped into my head and I typed it in on Facebook. And there she was. The girl who had ruined my life in grade school.
I attended St. Sebastian through 8th grade, so she effectively ruined my middle school years too. It was strange looking at her photo, as I have not seen her since grade school. If you had asked me at the beginning of 5th grade if we would be friends forever, I may have answered yes. I know now about bullying and “mean girls” and all the cruel things girls can do. At that time, I was experiencing it firsthand and I did not understand what was happening. One day I had a close friend and lots of other friends, and then suddenly, I didn’t. Some left right away as soon as she turned. Others drifted away as things were said about me and rumors and untruths were told. I was sad and very, very lonely. As I looked at her photo on her Facebook page, I briefly wondered if she was happy. Then I realized that I don’t wish her to be unhappy—I just really don’t care either way.
Friendships are very strange. Sometimes they are purely convenient. I have worked tons of jobs in my life, many of them waitress jobs in bars or restaurants and I always made friends there. Those are the friendships that you kind of know won’t last, but they are fun right then while you are sharing the same experiences. And then again, there are no hard and fast rules on that. I have a friend that I made in Garland, Texas 34 years ago. We knew each other for 5 months. We lost track of each other, and have recently found each other again. We know we love each other. We just had a life-break of sorts. She is a friend. She may be a Forever Friend.
My first teaching job was in a small Catholic School in Detroit. I have two friends from St. Gabriel’s that have turned out to be Forever Friends. I didn’t know it would happen that way at the time. I didn’t know that we would last 33 years and counting. I love them and cannot ever see that changing.
And yet…I have thought that in the past about other friendships. When I moved to Pittsburgh, lonely and missing my sisters, I was fortunate enough to have a next door neighbor that became a very close friend. She made being a stay-at-home mom bearable on days when it seemed unbearable. We talked every day. When the weather was warm, we took the children out back to play in the yard while we sat together. We talked, sharing our lives and laughing together. Ten years passed this way and I was so grateful for her friendship and that she existed in the world. And then things changed. I moved to a bigger home, not that far away, but far enough to make a difference. I started my business and I think that somehow sealed the fate of the friendship. It still hurts to think about, so I will move on. I did think she would be a Forever Friend, but it wasn’t to be; however, I still treasure the friendship.
I have a friend from childhood who lived near us when I was little and moved away when I was about ten. I have a friend who was the one friend I made in 7th grade. We attended high school together, and we ended up living together and traveling together later. I still talk to both of these women. We may not talk often, but we are Forever Friends.
What I am realizing is this very simple truth: Friendships aren’t necessarily supposed to be forever. Some friendships are only meant to exist for a certain period of time in your life. I didn’t realize this until now, as I grow older.
I think some people come into our lives to teach us, to help us, or to make us realize truths about ourselves…. That may be the whole life of the friendship. You may be in someone’s life for a short time for the same reasons. That doesn’t make the friendship any less important.
If you are blessed with friendships that last a long time, and you have that, be very, very grateful. My friendships now are so important to me. This year, I want to make sure I take care of the friendships that I have. They require time and energy and many times, the people who we care about the most and the ones who love us, are the ones whom we take for granted.
I don’t want to do that anymore. I have people in my life who are very important to me, and I want to make sure that they know that. Even if they aren’t Forever Friends, they are important now and they need to know that I treasure them.
I’m not sure that we know who the Forever Friends are right away. It’s the friendships themselves, at the time, that make life worthwhile.