...we'd once again be at my parents' house in my little hometown in southern West Virginia. This morning, however, I doubt we'd sit outside because of the weather. We've had a lot of bad storms and heavy rain the past couple of days, several counties to the east and north have even experienced flooding of "historic proportions," and the humidity is high. My mom would tell you that it's "muggy." We could sit outside if you wanted, but it wouldn't be nearly as pleasant as it was last week when you dropped by to visit.
Once again, I'd drink a Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper and I'd offer you a cup of my mom's coffee. Not in the mood for coffee? No problem. Would you care for some orange juice? Milk? How about a soda or some lemonade or perhaps a Yoo-Hoo? Yes, there are Yoo-Hoos out in the garage refrigerator. My stepdad absolutely loves them.
You'd tell me that you're surprised that I'm still here in West Virginia, for you thought my initial plan was to only stay a week. I'd say that you were right, but my plans changed earlier this week with the sudden passing of Gemma's mother.
You'd ask who Gemma was and I'd tell you that she was my childhood best friend. You'd look puzzled, for you've never heard me mention Gemma before. I'd let out a soft, barely audible sigh and say, "Gemma and I are no longer friends; acquaintances with history is a better term that describes us now." I'd go on to explain how our families have been friends for many, many years, long before Gemma and I were even born. I'd then tell you that I decided to extend my stay so I can attend the wake this evening and pay my respects to not only her, but to the family whom I spent a lot of time with when I was younger.
You and I would sit there in companionable silence for awhile as I gathered my thoughts. I'd then tell you a little bit about Gemma, about how she and I met when we were nine years old and, if I'm remembering correctly, we didn't really care for each other at first. I'd tell you that I really don't know why, for that was over thirty years ago; I just know that we were not fast friends. The following year, however, everything changed. Gemma and I found ourselves in the same fifth grade homeroom and apparently the close proximity day in and day out was all it took for us become the best of friends. For many years later, throughout junior high, we were virtually inseparable. Most of our classes were together, we played on the same sports teams, and we spent countless Friday nights and Saturday mornings together sleeping over at each other's houses. Gemma always hosted the best sleepovers. We had so much fun playing boardgames, watching music videos, and talking about boys...
My friendship with Gemma transitioned from being best friends to being good friends shortly after we started high school. She grew really close to another classmate of ours, a classmate whom she had more in common with, and I found myself doing the same with another classmate. Gemma and I remained very good friends, however; we just weren't as close as we'd once been.
After we graduated high school, our lives took us in completely different directions as we attended different colleges and relocated to different states for work. Despite this, Gemma and I continued to stay connected to some degree well into adulthood. It was a truly unique friendship because no matter how much time passed between our visits or our phone conversations, we could always pick up where we left off with ease.
An awkward silence would then fall between us. You'd sip your drink, not knowing if I would continue. I'd know what you were thinking. I'd know that you picked up on what I said earlier about Gemma and I no longer being friends. I'd sense your unspoken question. I know you're too polite to just come out and ask and that is something I deeply appreciate, by the way. "Gemma and I severed ties about a year ago and we haven't been in communication since." You'd immediately apologize, sensing the sensitivity of the topic and I'd tell you it's ok. "It is what it is," I'd say. "You know that old saying about people entering our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime? Well, apparently that's true and the season of our friendship has now passed." I'd pause and then say, "Although our friendship was sometimes complicated, complicated beyond belief, complicated more than I can ever describe, I'm very grateful for the time we had."
I would then share something that I really haven't told anyone - I'm nervous about seeing her this evening.
You see, when Gemma and I went our separate ways, it was during a very complicated, messy situation, a situation that I still have many unanswered questions about. But, I have accepted the fact that the situation is one of those mysterious things in life that I'm simply not meant to understand. I've also accepted that our friendship came to an end. Being the realist I am, I know that people change. Marriages end everyday because the individuals involved "grew apart" or "outgrew the relationship." I know the same holds true for friendships. Just because we were friends once doesn't mean that we were supposed to be friends forever. It's just weird and sad to some degree when someone you know becomes someone you knew, especially if you were close with that person for many years.
I don't know what this evening holds and I'm nervous because I don't know what to expect. I don't like not knowing what to expect. I hold no hard feelings towards Gemma. I truly look back on our collective history with much appreciation and sincere fondness. But, I cannot guarantee that she feels the same; she may harbor some ill feelings towards me and I don't know how well I'll be received.
I'd tell you that my wish is that she will accept my sincere condolences and know how truly sorry I am for the passing of her mother. Her mother was kind and always made me feel very welcome in their home. Above all, I hope that she knows much I value the memory of the friendship we used to share and that I wish her much happiness in this life.
As always, thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend.
Linking up with Diana @ Part Time Monster