Death of a Friendship

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Some say that if a friendship lasts seven years, it will last a lifetime. I wonder how true that is. We almost made it, but not quite. And though I would have never predicted this, part of me wills it to be untrue. After all, hope is a defense mechanism meant to protect our hearts.

death of a friendship; an empty campsite

You see, we did it all together. Vacations, celebrations, birthdays. Good times. Bad times. We have so much in common and are alike in so many ways. Husbands that drive us crazy, two kids, full-time careers. Similar interests and the same sense of humor. Inside jokes. We can communicate across a room with only our eyes and finish each other’s sentences. She’s the first person I shared my exciting news with or reached out to when I was having a crap day.

You see, she was my confidant. My person. The sister I never had. My village. My ride or die.

It started when reaching out to her first became the norm. Then, over time, when I stopped initiating contact, communication stopped altogether. She never checked in with me. I thought for sure a birthday or holiday message would arrive. Anxiously, I wait for it. The message to symbolize hope. Hope that it isn’t really over. But, when it didn’t come, the harsh reality set in. Maybe it really is the end.

The most painful goodbye is the one never said or explained.

Maybe I am living under the pretense that our relationship was stronger than it ever really was, making this loss particularly painful. Or perhaps it is the silent death that hurts most – not knowing why the friendship ended. Because there was no notice, no real warning. No fight. No argument. Just a slow realization. There were fewer phone calls, fewer text messages, and less time together.death of a friendship; one-way street sign

In grieving the loss of a friendship, we often wonder what caused the other person to pull back or walk away. How did this friendship fail? Why? And the truth is that sometimes we may never know, which is both sad and unfortunate. There is something distinctly tragic about the loss of a friendship that leaves us feeling a certain emptiness and sense of abandonment.

When all we are left with are the memories, we have to hold on to them a little tighter.

Unlike childhood friendships that come and go, adult friendships feel like they should stand the test of time, distance, and the various seasons of life.

Now, I grieve the emptiness of not having her in my life. I grieve all that is lost and will never be again. But mostly, I just miss her. Her long, tight hugs could dissolve any worries or tough times away. That one-of-a-kind hug that always made me feel loved and special.

death of a friendship; two women spelling out love with their fingers

Friendship has a familiarity and comfort that we don’t necessarily realize until it’s gone. When it ends, it can leave us feeling empty, unworthy, and “not good enough.”

Listen, I get it. Life gets busy. Work. Marriage. Kids. Pandemic. But I also know sometimes people simply outgrow each other. But, without her friendship, it feels like something is missing all the time. Like I am constantly searching for something that can never be found. Maybe I didn’t do enough to keep the friendship alive? Perhaps I didn’t prioritize her in my life? Was I not the friend she needed me to be? Because, truthfully, she wasn’t always the friend I needed her to be. It wasn’t my fault or her fault. It was our fault. death of a friendship; two women sitting on the beach facing the water

Unlike divorce or death, there is no guide on navigating the loss of a friendship.

There was no messy breakup. No time to say goodbye. Instead, it was a quiet death. Almost unnoticeable. Until it wasn’t. And now, I don’t know what to do with my feelings.

I wanted to be her forever friend.

In a strange way, our friendship feels unfinished. It simply didn’t stand the test of time or distance. And it did not weather the storm. I still think of her often and wonder how she is doing. Does she ever think of me?

C’est la vie, right? That’s how it goes, and life goes on. I just wish it wasn’t going on without her.

When it hurts this much, that’s how I know our friendship was real. I hope it was real for her, too.

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Born in Alabama (Roll Tide!), Heather moved to the Pensacola area at the young age of 7 and has called this area home ever since. After narrowly surviving distance learning while telecommuting, she is now concentrating fully on her career as a community coordinator for a local court-based program. Heather received a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of West Florida and has over 15 years experience working in child welfare, the school system, and as a crime victim advocate. Married for 14 years, she and her husband are the proud and busy parents of two beautiful girls, whose interests in volleyball and sailing keep the family calendar packed. Heather fancies herself to be an organizer of chaos, leader of household misfits, and below-average gardener. When she isn’t avoiding the elliptical, cheering on a tournament or regatta, or searching for a new recipe, she enjoys traveling, sailing, camping, and finding new ways to make a positive impact on her community. Recognizing she is a constant work in progress, Heather loves connecting with others, self-reflection, and strengthening her village, all while trying to breathe in the simple pleasures of life.

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