After cleaning out my closet last week, I was excited to show my husband the progress I had made. He looked around and seemed less than impressed, stating that he didn’t think it looked that different. He was about to turn and walk out until something caught his eye. he pointed to a small brown box in the top corner of my closet: “What’s that?”
I sighed a deep and powerful sigh. “That box,” I started, “needs to go in the garbage…”
Where do I start with that box? How do I tell you what’s in that box? How can I express the personal and powerful associations of that box without bringing you back on a three year journey into the past?
I had a friend – I’ll call her Kay – and everything that she ever was to me is in that box.
Kay was my best friend for a short while – we were close and intense and intimate in a way that I’ve rarely ever been with a friend. It was mutual, she was special, and I loved her.
Before she was my friend, she was my mentor – personally and professionally she inspired and encouraged me more than anyone had before.
Before she was my mentor, she was my physician – she delivered both of my babies and she was kind, compassionate, and caring in a way that many physicians lack today.
Through all of those stages, she became a beacon of “something” in my life and there was not a day that went by in 5 years that I didn’t think of her for some reason or another.
I don’t know how else to summarize my relationship with Kay.
A year ago my life fell apart and I struggled deeply to keep my sopping head bobbing above the water. Kay tried to be there for me as best as she could. Unfortunately, I was sinking more than I thought and I must have been bringing her down with me. One day Kay started pulling away from me, and so I grabbed on harder. I was at the lowest point that I had every been in my life, yet the day finally came where she let me go. In one short and succinct email she told me everything I didn’t want to hear: She can’t be my support, she can’t be my friend, she can’t be my mentor. She hasn’t talked to me since.
After that day, I took everything I had from or about her and I put it in a box. But, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away – I wasn’t ready to say good-bye – so I placed it in the top corner of my closet instead. And for 8 months, there it remained… for me to glance at every time I went into my closet.
“You can throw it in the garbage, please?” I asked my husband with a tone of authority. It was time, I decided. He wanted to see what was in it first, to make sure there wasn’t anything worth keeping (even though I assured him there was nothing). To my surprise, however, there was one thing I felt drawn to keep: Right on the top of the box was a small glass picture frame with a 4×6 photo of Kay and I after our first 10K race. Before our falling out, I displayed that picture proudly on a shelf in my closet. While I haven’t seen it at all in over 8 months, I was surprised to feel a sense of comfort and satisfaction in looking at the picture. I placed it off to the side while my husband and I filtered through everything else. Eventually I put everything back in the box, including cards of kind words and letters of encouragement, and I watched my husband carry it away to the garbage. I took the framed picture of us at the race and I placed it back on the shelf where it sat 8 months ago.
I’ve forgiven her.
Our friendship is over and it will never come back.
It still hurts when I think about “what could have been.”
But I’ve made peace with it all.
She was an important part of my life for a long time.
We accomplished wonderful things together, and I can’t change that.
It’s time to remember the good.