Just before Halloween in 2005, we hosted a dinner party for us and two other couples. We served homemade lasagna and baked ziti; after we finished eating, we adjourned to our screened back porch and consumed several bottles of red wine as we debated politics, made plans to move to France together, discussed fertility and potential children and celebrated my recent acceptance to grad school. Jimmy and I had been in this house only since August, and this was our first real gathering. Though the night became chilly, the wine kept us warm, and we six chatted until the wee hours of the morning. Even more miraculously, despite consuming about 8 bottles of wine, most of us escaped hangovers.
That night was a special night. A wonderful night. It felt like a perfect moment in which friends come together to eat, drink and make merry. Having been married for a few years, we 3 couples were comfortable in our marriages and beginning to wonder about what came next. Some of us were pondering having children very soon. It seemed like everything was falling into place. Though we didn’t know it, our paths would diverge radically beginning very soon.
I think upon that evening as a perfect night. That night was magical but unfortunately, it didn’t last because our infertility cast a pall over everything within a few months. That night was never repeated and likely won’t ever be. One couple has moved from 15 minutes away to Florida. The other couple, though only 20 minutes away geographically, is light years away in every other way.
I think about that perfect evening occasionally, especially in the Fall. Finally, I am in a place in which I can think about it with fondness, not sadness or bitterness.
Today I discovered that the wife in the local couple had unfriended me on Facebook. We were still Facebook friends as recently as a few months ago, and I wonder what it was that made her unfriend me finally. Was it my response to her support for Chick-Fil-A? Was it something else? Was it even her doing or a weird quirk of Facebook’s? After all, she is still technically “friends” with my husband on Facebook.
Our relationship had been tenuous for years. Despite my husband being close friends from high school with her and her husband, infertility came between us. Supposedly we weren’t there for them during their pregnancy. Somehow, we were blamed for not letting them be there for us during our infertility.
Over the years, olive branches were extended. Emails exchanged. Children’s birthday parties attended. Yet, somehow, relations never improved. We experienced eerily similar family tragedies and reached out to each other, yet those exchanges led only to temporary repairs.
During our infertility, I brooded over this lost relationship. Why couldn’t they empathize? Why couldn’t they just acknowledge that our situation was pretty damn horrific? I sent a nice gift although I couldn’t attend their baby shower because it was only one week after the lap in which I learned the extent of my damage, and I was a mess.
Once Daniel arrived, we again attempted overtures that led to one-time visits but nothing more. It hurt, and I wondered why we didn’t make progress. Finally, though, over the last couple of years, I reached a point of peace with the situation. Frankly, I didn’t have time to worry about why this couple was still so estranged. I’m a brooder and worrier by nature, and it was freeing to feel free finally from such concerns.
We made one last series of overtures during the time in which beloved fathers and grandparents were dying in similar circumstances. Surely, if we ever had a reason to embrace as members of the fatherless club (all 4 of us) or having beloved family members who had died from the same type of cancer, the time was now. Donations to causes were made. Emails exchanged. But it wasn’t enough. It never was enough.
Obviously. Here I find myself defriended from Facebook. I could email her and ask what is going on and if she intended it or even just to check in, but truthfully, I’m past it. I’m a little shocked to find myself in that place of peace with this realization because that’s truly not my style (regretfully). I guess I’m finally tired of not living up to how someone else wants me to behave. I’m tired of trying to reach out and being rebuffed, punished for not reacting to situations (even our own) like they wanted us to.
Clearly, Jimmy and I, despite a long history with them, are not what this couple needs, and we’re OK with that. All we wish for them is a happy life and supportive friends and family. I’ve always understood – even if it’s been difficult to accept – that friendships have a life cycle. We’ve reached the end of the life cycle with this set of friends.
Friends, I bid you adieu. Thank you for years we had and the special times we shared. May you have people in your life who support you the way you need them to do. Sadly, we could not.
How do you handle broken friendships?