It came to my attention last week that I never wrapped up last week’s post.
What happened to my son and his first grade BFF after their falling out?
Well, I don’t have a simple answer. My son and this boy remain good friends. At home we’ve recently hashed out different strategies for managing his response to school playground challenges, and the thing is, he gets along beautifully with this friend and all of the other boys when they are playing one-on-one. It’s group play that becomes tough and provocative for him.
His situation strikes me as similar to ‘group play’ as experienced by adults, whether on the playground, so to speak, or in the workplace. As adults employed in a professional landscape we experience partnerships, jealousies, and breakups. Our relationships with our colleagues and friends are distinct, yes, but also similar in that we spend meaningful time (I hope) with men and women tending to shared goals and impact. The way we get there, however, may or may not be on or even treading close to the same path.
Navigating new and personal grown-up friendships is also interesting. Most of the time I like meeting new people, but there are times when doing so scares or shuts me down. Given this and for a thousand other reasons, I treasure my ‘forever’ long time friends… the women I met as a happy, breezy, active girl, and later as a smart, insecure, more or less happy teenager, and still later as a searching, open, and unsatisfied college student. They’ve known me long enough that if they wanted out of our friendship I believe they would have ducked out long ago. The fact that liked me ‘then’ and ‘then’ and then’… and still like me today, well, I am humbled, happy and grateful for their friendship.
I may have mentioned it in my last post, but I have the most amazing friends. Writing this makes me want to be with them right NOW!
Friendship break-ups are the worst, though. While I haven’t gone through permanent separation from a loved one/partner/spouse, I do know the sadness of a friendship that is, for a variety of reasons, unrecoverable. There are people out there (fortunately very few)… who know me… or knew me… and we are no longer friends.
Experiencing my parents cherish, but eventually break up with their dearest friends years ago is something I will never forget. On the other hand, observing them hold other friends close for more than 40 years (my lifetime) has been a privilege.
Sometimes I think my parents’ friends are actually my friends, too, and I feel so lucky.
When my sister Liz died, I had the true pleasure of connecting or re-connecting with a few of her BFFs. Of course I’d known them before the accident, but they were hers, not mine. In fact, I often observed Liz’s friendships from a distance, due to geography or biology or whatever.
Once I went out with a guy in her circle of summer friends.
It did not go over well (with her).
Today, these lovely, accomplished, smart women are still not mine, but occasionally I reach out to them or they reach out to me. When this happens, my heart always fills with the knowledge that they remember Liz. And that we all remain connected to her. I’m struck, but not surprised, that she had such awesome girlfriends.
One thing Liz and I had in common was our ability to cultivate wonderful friendships with women who are extraordinary given their grace, intelligence and humor. (Some of these women, I should note, were stuck with us because our parents were friends and so that was that. Like cousins, we came together regularly on special and non-special occasions through no planning or our own desire. Thank you, thank you, parents.)
To my sister’s friends, whom I now might quietly call my own, and to my friends – old and new, near and far – and to my sons’ friends – the new, the challenging, and the sweet — I raise a glass tonight.
I look forward to knowing you all for a very long time.
And I thank you for knowing me.
Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.