I’ll bet you thought I was done. So did I. But something came to me and I just wanted to add it on to the story. So this is one last blog before closing the chapter on the story of my friendship.
I had mentioned, in my very long email to Marie, that I was concerned about the effect all the stress from the change in her and the friendship might be having on my health. I was scheduled to see my doctor in October, 2009 for my annual checkup. It was the fifth year of my cancer diagnosis and that is a real milestone. After five years the cancer is considered in remission or cured. Of course, when you have been diagnosed with cancer you learn to live with a cloud of dread over your head. When appointments approach, it creates anxiety and it’s all you can think of, which is probably why I wrote about it in the letter. Besides that, Marie had seen me through this very difficult time of my life and she always wanted me to call her right after each appointment, to tell her what the doctor had to say.
So I went to see my doctor and everything was fine. I can’t begin to explain what a relief it was to hear those words and especially on this fifth anniversary. Of course this time I couldn’t call Marie to let her know. I thought, since I mentioned it in my letter, she might be concerned or want to know the results. I debated with myself about it. I asked my husband what I should do. Finally, I thought I would drop her an email just to let her know and to spare her from wondering or possibly worrying about what the doctor had to say. So I did. It was a short email basically stating what I just said here. But, it wasn’t my best idea, because she wrote back and said, “I'm glad you are okay and I knew that you would be....like all the other times. But I can't imagine that's really why you wrote back. That's what you have to say? Why bother? I mean why should you care about my feelings concerning your health?” And then she proceeded to launch into defensive mode about the letter I had sent. Among other things she said it was me who didn’t want the friendship any more after ten years, that the examples I gave her in the letter were petty, and so what if she had changed, everyone changes. Clearly she was very angry and her feelings were still raw.
So, you can imagine how stunned I was when my cell phone rang on October 10th, 2012, almost exactly three years later, and I saw Marie’s name on the caller ID. The adrenaline shot through me and I had all kinds of anxiety. I was in shock and couldn’t answer. I reasoned that it must be a mistake and her phone or she misdialed. She couldn’t have meant to dial my number. The ringing stopped. I took a deep breath and thought that it was over. But no, a text message came moments later saying, “I just wanted to say something to you, but I didn’t want to see it written in a text or an email. It’s ok, I understand. All good things for you Nina.” So now that I knew she meant to call me, I had to make a split second decision to call back or not. I am not one to turn my back on anyone and had no idea what it was she had to tell me. I texted back first and lied, saying I wasn’t near the phone and I was sorry I missed her call and that I wished only good things for her too. But then I dialed her number, because I realized how difficult it had to be for her to call me after all this time, and what she wanted to say had to be important. She picked up after several rings. It was a little awkward, we hadn’t spoken on the phone since Labor Day, 2009. She told me she realized her call is out of the blue, but what she had to say was too hard for her to put in writing. I answered, it’s okay. Then she told me her older sister, who had had two bouts with breast cancer years ago, had died. I told her how sorry I was to hear that, she was a wonderful person and would be missed by all who knew her. I could hear the sadness in her voice. I expressed my sorrow for her loss and that I understood her pain. I think some of that sadness might have been about the loss of our friendship, because she knew I would have been there for her, even flew down there, if that is what she needed. She wanted me to know she loved me and I told her I bear no ill will or hard feelings towards her and would always wish her the very best in life. She thanked me for that. I expressed how sorry I was again, said I would keep her and her family in my prayers, and told her to please take care of herself. She replied, she just keeps walking, like she always does. And with that we hung up. If I have to be honest, I wish the call would have been longer. It was good to hear her voice again.
It was a surreal moment, like I briefly went back in time. She sounded like the “old” Marie for the few moments we spoke. I don’t know if she was hoping or expecting that I would say more or something else. I really couldn’t. I was still somewhat in shock and I think she was calling from work, during her break. That may have been the moment when she got the courage or the nerve to make the call. I am glad I called back and listened to what she had to say. I would have always wondered what it might have been, and the truth is, even after everything that happened, I still care. I could never just turn off feelings or forget all the good times we had shared. It’s not me to do that. And for her to have made that call to me, she must know that deep down there will always be a place in my heart for her. And, I’d like to think that, even though she didn’t acknowledge her part in rupturing the relationship to me, at some point she has admitted it to herself at least. And maybe part of her sadness was about something rare and beautiful, that once enriched both our lives, but now only exists in memories and remnants of the past.
P.S. Hurricane Sandy hit New York City hard on October 28th, 2012. It was all over the news in every part of the country. On November 1st, 2012 I get a text message from Marie and reply back. Make of it what you will. This is how it went:
Marie: I know you probably don't care or want to hear from me, but I wanted to see that you all were alright.
Me: That isn't true, I don't harbor any ill will or hard feelings towards to and we are all fine. I appreciate your care and concern. Thank you for asking and I hope all is well with you
Marie: I'm so glad. I wanted to contact you before. I wrestled with it but I'm glad I did. Thanks for your kind words Nina.
Me: I'm glad too, I wouldn't want you to worry needlessly.