I don’t know how to do this. Not well. Somehow I thought things would stay the same forever. Skating together through life. Happily ever after and all. Our paths crossing at planned and unplanned intervals, intersecting to laugh about shared memories. Maybe dinner on occasion to catch up on how things are going.
I remember the early days when our eyes met, and I could see the beautiful broken in yours. I knew I couldn’t fix, but I could love. I could accept. I could walk with. I could honor and embrace and celebrate all that was you.
You were lovely. A delight. Are lovely. Still delightful. We walked many paths together. Logged many years, one after the other, like laps around the rink. Forgive me for taking those for granted. For thinking that there would be an endless supply of them, waiting for the taking. Always there.
It’s hard for me to end seasons well. As one who was always being pulled ahead to the next chapter, leaving doors slamming behind me in the wake of relational crisis, I don’t know what to do with the discomfort of one friendship season’s end and another’s beginning.
I don’t know how to do the ending of this particular chapter together. Saying goodbye to the status quo i s difficult. Forgive me for going about it awkwardly, like the way I skate in brown suede rental skates. Denial is smooth and comfortable.
I realize that my neglect has hurt you. Silence has spoken louder than any words. I don’t know what to say. I could at least say that much. I don’t know. Didn’t know. Felt lost. Feel lost. I am sorry for the losing.
I long to honor what was. What we had. There was laughter over inside jokes and random notes of encouragement that morphed into texts as technology grew. We did work and life and created stories together. We shared moments of connection and so much laughter. We shared tears.
You loved my kids well and helped me love them better. Your voice still echoes in my mind with phrases of endearment used for them that remind me that they are lovable and loved, not just by me. You cared for and remembered things about and made impressions on them.
You looked the other way, when necessary. Whose kid is that? I have NO idea!
I long to look ahead to what will be. What is coming. It will be different. The unknown is painful and hard. It will not be the same. It can’t be. Our paths, already diverging in the natural scheme of daily living feel as if they have been ripped apart.
This is a living grief.
So as I work to process the loss of what was, forgive me for not speaking up. For not asking the questions that rattled around in my mind. For not knowing what to do when life was so full that it was easier to ignore the discomfort brewing and to believe that someone else would be there. For being absent. For losing my words, those things that I have in abundance most days.
We are both works in progress, not yet arriving. I don’t pretend to know your pain or your heart.
I don’t have solutions or answers. I don’t know what this will look like next week, next month, next year.
What I do know is that I am grateful for you and your friendship. I am grateful for surprise texts. I am grateful for your encouragement to write, for your willingness to try, for your struggle to stay true to yourself and to those who love you. I am grateful that you spoke up about your feelings, offered a chance for me to awkwardly apologize over technology, and accepted the words “forgive me” as fireworks went off New Year’s Eve.
Julie McClay lives in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley with her high school sweetheart (and husband of 24 years) and 5 of their 8 children. She is learning that while it can be painful to face the past honestly while living in the moment and looking towards the future, it can be healing and lead to the hope of a brighter future. She digs through these thoughts and feelings here.