Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Remnants of a Friendship...Part 8

Part 8

When I got landed, she was there to greet me at the airport with her older son. She had to rent a car for the week because her car was in the shop. Of course I felt bad adding to her expenses, especially with her second trip to St. Lucia coming up right after I leave. I went to give her a big hug, and it seemed she responded in a less than enthusiastic way. It just could have been me expecting the worst. We had a nice chat in the car on the way home. Her older son was the one who spent his birthday in New York, and the three of us joked till we got to the apartment. As soon as we walked inside, she put down my luggage and said to me, “So my situation has changed and we can’t go looking for cars or houses now, what do you want to do?” My heart sunk in my chest and my gut said, “I told you so.” We hadn’t seen each other for two years. I hoped for more than being a shopping assistant. Now, I really felt that was the reason why she asked me to come visit. On top of that, I was expected to come up with ideas of things to do. I would have been content with a few lunches, rented movies and a trip to the mall. Just spend some quality time together. There was some of that. We did go to the mall one day and we shopped. I wanted to get her some nice things for her birthday in August that she would be able to wear on her trip. Then we had lunch in the food court and came home. But I felt something was off the whole time. It was like she was going through the motions of being with me, her body was there but her mind was not really “present."

I had hoped that during this week we would have some time alone to talk about this “distancing” that I felt, that I knew was not all in my mind. But, we really never got around to talking about it. She had to be aware of it. All week long she would be constantly texting or talking to her niece on the phone, or leaving me alone to run over to her niece’s apartment for ten to fifteen minute “visits,” never mentioning once that she was leaving or where she was going. She would just disappear and come back and say nothing. We hadn’t seen each other in two years, she sees her niece every day. I felt like I was taking time away from them just being there. I tried to make the best of it and keep my feelings to myself. After all, I did ignore my gut feeling, and I knew better than to do that.

I know it might sound like I was jealous of the relationship she had with her niece to some people, but that’s not it at all. I know she wanted to believe that and put the blame on me. A couple of times when I managed to bring it up in the past and said it wasn't about jealousy, she seemed skeptical. The fact is I genuinely wanted them to be close, but didn’t expect for that to mean I would have to be shut out, little by little, from her life. I was grieving the loss of my friend and my friendship, as I felt it slipping away and changing. My gut was aware of it, but I had to see it for myself. There just wasn’t room in her life for two best friends, it was either/or. So her niece had been elevated to the spot I used to hold 24/7 for 9+ years and I had been relegated to a once in a while - touch base with you - call you if I need you, spot. It saddened me. I can't begin to tell you how much. She knew what she was doing too, but she wouldn’t be open and honest with me about it. If she was moving on, I felt I at least deserved honesty about it and the same courtesy to move on too. I got the impression, that her plan was to back away a little at a time and that I would get used to it and go along with it. This way, if she ever needed me, I would still be there for her. I guess she didn't count on the fact that I would not be so happy in the new role she designated for me or miserable enough that I would need to take a long break.

Nothing was resolved between us during that visit, but my perception was confirmed. That's what I went there to find out. For the first time since meeting her, I was happy to get on the plane and go home at the end of the week. Before I left to go through security, I gave her the money she would need to pay for the week's car rental, over $400, so it wouldn't take anything away from her trip with her niece.

Just before going through security to my gate, we gave each other a hug. I hugged her a second time and I held her extra tight as my eyes filled up with tears. I knew this might very well be the last time we would see each other, the way things were going. I took my bags off the conveyor belt and looked back at Marie one last time as I waved good bye. My heart was heavy and I smiled through the tears. Still, as I walked away, I was happy to be going home to my family, where I knew I belonged.

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