I've been pondering the meaning of "true friendship" for the past week, ever since John went back to the ship. I find myself wondering if my neighbor was the true friend I've spent the past 15 years thinking she was.
When John went back to work I thought my "friend" would be on the doorstep ready for a long visit over coffee like we had done in the past. She always called as soon as her DH went to work. She didn't call, she didn't come over and as I was busy getting my home back in order I didn't think anything of it. She'd call the next day, was giving me a breather to catch up. Days went past without a visit or call and I thought she was just as busy as I was. Back in July she'd had 2 heart attacks, had to have 4 stints put in, was doing Cardiac Rehab. Maybe she had gone down to stay with her parents, maybe she wasn't recovering as she should. I wondered and worried about her and finally yesterday I walked across the street.
She's fine, she didn't need rehab anymore, her heart is as strong as a young girls her Dr. told her. She could go and do all the things she'd done before. I tried to catch up on all her news letting her know what I'd been up to. She wasn't interested in my news, turning the conversation back to herself.
As I walked back home, I wondered what I had missed all these years. Was this the same person who cried on my shoulder, who I laughed with as she hid her cigarettes so her mom wouldn't know she smoked, my sewing and shopping buddy? What happened to the person I stood by as she went through years with an alcholic DH, the same person I helped beat her drug habit. Was this the same person who watched my furbabies when I went out of town, who had a key to my house? What happened to my friend, where did she go or was she never a friend at all?
All these things flew through my mind and it came to me. She's been distancing herself ever since she had the first heart attack. We had a long talk after the that one when she quit smoking. Second hand smoke her dad said was bad and she shouldn't be around it. I ignored the writing on the wall, letting her know I wasn't so inconsiderate as to smoke around her. No stress her dad said, so she couldn't watch the cats anymore. I understood that as well, my furbabies could become road kitties and travel with me when I went somewhere or I'd find a new sitter. These were small bumps in the road I could deal with. The loss of my friend would be harder.
I walked over yesterday with some freshly baked banana bread to check on my friend and came home with my house keys. I'm sad at how things have turned out for us, but at the same time I'm glad to know that our friendship meant so little to her.