I drove in the tracks of the Real Estate agent’s car who we were following. The dirt road wasn’t plowed and it had been snowing all morning. This was the last house we’d be looking at for the day. If it were any other season the winding dirt road would have seemed charming, but now it was just treacherous, especially since my friend who was looking to move to the country didn’t have four-wheel drive.
I had helped two other friends look at houses in our town that year. It seemed everyone was moving. It seemed perfectly normal that I’d be helping this friend too. And eventually, she did find the right house and moved in.
But our friendship deteriorated. And after it ended I would wonder if it were ever real.
This past week that day kept coming back to me. When I think about driving up that snow-covered road together, I remember something real between us. I believe that we really were friends.
On Sunday, Jon and I saw this friend again for the first time in months. We found out that she was sick and helped get her to the hospital. Jon has been writing about it, but I haven’t been able to. I wasn’t ready, I didn’t know how.
But it has taken up so much space inside of me for the past few days, I’ve come to the point where I can’t write about anything else, without writing about it first.
Months ago, when I realized that my relationship with this friend wasn’t healthy for either of us I closed myself off to it.
I’ve done this with people before and when this happens, I feel a steeliness inside of me. Even just thinking about them, my eyes get hard and unyielding, the space just below my ribs tighten. My mind can say what it wants, but my body says “no more”. It’s as if a steel door or wall separates me from them.
On Sunday, when I saw this friend in great need, that wall came down. And in the moment, when I was trying to help her, the hurt and anger I had felt toward her were gone, we were just two people.
And I’m so glad that Jon and I were able to help. That our friend would be in a place where she would be safe and taken care of.
But I can’t live in that space.
In the days after I felt the effects of being opened up again to those old feelings that I shut myself off to. And after seeing my friend in the hospital all the reasons why we couldn’t be friends came back to me.
I decided I would not see her again. I felt I had done all I could do for her and once again I felt the hardness inside of me, I felt that protective door slammed shut.
Until last night when I got home from Bellydancing and Jon told me that this friend has inoperable cancer. This doesn’t change the reality that our friendship isn’t healthy, but I did feel that protective wall to melt a little.
In the next day or so I’ll visit my friend in hospice.
I’m not looking miracles or a Hollywood ending. I just want to acknowledge that feeling I have when I think of the day we drove around in the snow looking at houses. The feeling that at one time there was something real between us. And, to be helpful to another human being, if I can.