Reader and contributor Louise Swan was inspired to consider the idea of childhood friendship after reading my post on the subject [But Keep the Old].
Yesterday. Part 1: the first decade, the first friendship.
A Tale of Two Friendships
by Louise Swan
Part 2: the second decade, the second friendship.
In junior high school, the focus of my social life shifted from girlfriends to boyfriends. A year younger than most of my classmates, I was insecure about this whole boy-girl thing. However, I saw that access to boys was through the “right” girlfriends.
Enter my new best friend. She was very popular, a cheerleader, and always had a “good” boyfriend. I was impressed with her social success and cultivated the friendship. While she was Miss Personality, I was The Jester. She needed a girlfriend and there I was.
It worked. We talked. We phoned. We walked home together. We double-dated. We were high school best friends.
Our lives diverged. Different colleges. Different states. She married a “good catch ” during her college years.
When it was time for my wedding, she was pregnant with the first of her two sons. My mother, who ran that particular show, decreed that a pregnant Matron of Honor was not possible so she was not in the wedding party.
We continued to lose touch. I was busy with my life, she with hers.
At our 35th high school reunion, we caught up with each other. Her life had not gone as I had assumed. The “good catch” had been abusive, jealous, and controlling. She was divorced. Since she had not prepared for a career, she was making do with different jobs. With lots of anger issues, she had gained lots of weight.
That was 25 years ago. Those years have not been kind. She is lonely and poor. She lives in government-supported housing whose residents are a cohesive clique. She is an outsider. One son is estranged. The other does his best from 800 miles away.
There are physical problems. Health issues prevent her from working. She recently fell and lay unconscious for three days before a friend insisted that the manager unlock the apartment. She was hospitalized with broken ribs, then rehab and back home. She has fallen several times since then.
There is mental confusion. During a recent phone chat, she spoke of “your sister”. I have no sister. She was sure that our mothers had been pregnant at the same time. Her Mom had a daughter while we were in high school. My Mom did not.
How can a friend help? I call. I listen. Our friendship is very different than it was 60 years ago but it is still there. We talk. I hold her in my heart. She may not be gone gone, but she is gone. It is time to say good-bye. But it is hard.
Am I to lose my two first friends within a year?