Once, there were 4 friends. Like any group of women sometimes there were 3, sometimes one was too far away or in an emotional crisis to be near us physically or emotionally. But we were 4 regardless. I thought during that time we would be lifelong friends, friends that fly on a moments notice to where they were needed. Friends who loved each other without thought, friends who traveled during the summer and laughed about the good ol days.
A few years ago something happened. Something big and the four of us blew up into little bits, scattered around scrambling like ants trying to make sense of who was what, and who was where, who we could talk to about what and who we couldn't. It was a horrible time in my life of friendships, on par really with my legal divorce. I won't go into details about what happened because, well, that's our story but things fell apart and because I had been my helpful self I got blamed for something really bad that did not occur. It was so horrible it was the first time since Jr. High I pondered a fist fight with another girl.
The one who accused, she was under a great amount of stress and I had great empathy for her, probably more so than any but I could not go back to that place again without an apology that she was not able to give.
Then there were 3 and one outsider, which rotated depending on who was with whom. That's just the way it went, it was slightly uncomfortable but it worked because we didn't need to be in the same room with one another.
And then one became pregnant and she was our collective glue. I decided at that point to figure it out. We were all to be aunties and no one should be omitted or uncomfortable at showers and events. So I sucked it up and said lets talk. We agreed to disagree and were friendly but it was never quite the same. She didn't trust me and I didn't trust her but we made the best of everything considering and became friendly again.
A couple years passed of friendly and then it happened again. Things were said about myself and people I love and I rationalized her anger and meanness until one day I said wait a minute...why do I keep defending someone who continues to throw me under the bus? And I did something I've never done before, I "divorced" my friend.
I cut her out completely, deleted her from my facebook contacts, didn't return emails. It was one of the hardest, most painful decisions I've ever made in my adult life. I struggled with it for weeks before I pulled the trigger, but I divorced my friend completely. She was too toxic for me to keep.
And now we're just scattered because we're all different now. Everything is different now.
My friend, who I divorced, she was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of weeks ago. I know this because one of the others told me. This morning I called the last of our 4 to make sure she had heard the news and I cried while I told her that one of our 4 was very ill. We both cried on a Tuesday morning. She in Vermont, me here in California – in my office looking out onto sunny skies. Just like that, life changes in an instant.
One of our 4 has breast cancer and she is 39. Because in my head we are still 4, even. if. we. are. not. it's just the way I am.
The loveliest of watercolors are by Amber Alexander on Etsy