I see her coming from at least 100 feet away. My heart skips a beat as I search frantically for a hiding place. No, too late… she’s seen me.
Will she speak?
The moment of truth arrives. As she passes me on the crowded sidewalk in front of an office building, she looks at my purse, then my face. She offers a forced smile.
“Nice purse,” she says.
“Thank you,” I reply.
Ten years of friendship, sharing laughter, tears and life experience. Ten years of having lunch together every day, with four of those years spent working together. Ten years... and it had all come down to exchanging fake pleasantries as we passed each other on the street.
By the time I passed Bethany on the sidewalk, my life had become somewhat normal again. I’d gotten through the long, sleepless nights of adjusting to life alone and was dating again. While my divorce had been my decision, it was still the most stressful couple of years of my entire life.
At first, Bethany was there by my side. She was the calming force in my life. She knew I was struggling with my decision and sat with me as I cried. She was probably one of the best friends I’ve ever had besides my mom. I was sure she’d be there with me for at least 20 more years, cheering me on as I married again. Instead, by the time I met my second husband, she was long gone.
It didn’t happen suddenly, so I suppose I should at least be grateful for that. She began making excuses for not going to lunch with me. “I have too much work to do,” she’d say, or, “I’m going to lunch with some women in my office.” Soon I stopped trying. It was obvious she wasn’t interested in spending time with me.
In the weeks that followed, I examined every moment of those final lunches we had together. I remembered her getting cranky with me as I talked about the new part-time job I’d taken to keep from being in my apartment alone at night. I was making new friends and had even developed a crush on a man who worked there. I saw myself as starting a new life.
Bethany didn’t see it that way. In the perspective that can only come with time, I can’t help but wonder if she didn’t view the shift as disrespectful to her in some way. She was the best friend she’d ever been when I was crying and devastated. Once I was excitedly talking about my new life, she was suddenly an outsider.
A few years later, a mutual friend asked her what happened to our friendship. “She changed,” she said, giving no other information. And she was right. I’d changed. I wanted to take her to the next phase of my life, but putting myself in her shoes, I can see why she saw that I no longer fit in her life.
She was a good friend. She’d been with me through the tough times. When things got easier, I suppose she felt like I didn’t need her anymore. Instead of waiting around for me to end our friendship, she chose to end it first.
Bethany found other friends and occasionally I see them together, having lunch as we once did. I’m envious of that because even though she has her faults, she’s one of those people who can make friends easily. I’m not. Unfortunately, I let my own excitement over my new life get in the way of what could have been a beautiful lifelong friendship.
Can friendships survive divorce? Probably, but only if both parties continue to work at it. Friendship, like marriage, needs to be nurtured to survive.
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