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.