The Friendship Obituaries

Some friendships I’ve ended intentionally. Haven’t you?

I was 14 and I sent a note to a friend explaining that I couldn’t be her friend anymore. The reason for this valiant behavior? She’d discovered boys and sneaking out and smoking.

I’d been through that with a cousin, and I knew that if my friend was sneaking out with boys, those boys would be around even when they were allowed to be.

They’d be the kind of boys who encouraged girls to sneak out at night.

I wrote her that I wanted to stay out of trouble and that we were too young for smoking and boys. She never wrote back. She must’ve thought me a prude. But I wanted my life to go a particular way and that way didn’t include being derailed by boys.

She never spoke to me again.

Have you ever purposely ended a childhood friendship?

The Friendship Obituaries

Do you remember the first friendship to die?

We were in the 2nd grade and the murder was accidental. Or at least, I hadn’t considered the consequences of my actions.

In the lunch line I kissed a boy on top of his head. He was short with blue black hair and big blue eyes. I was the tallest kid in the class.

He was horrified.

My best friend, S., was angry. She liked him too, and the two of them were the same height.

S did eventually speak to me again, but the friendship died. I didn’t understand why she was so mad. It wasn’t as if the boy had then suddenly decided he liked me!

The last I remember of S was our sophomore year in high school. We hadn’t spoken in years and I saw in her the hallway. She was pregnant.

We never did speak again.

But in the 2nd grade we were best friends.

____

Do you remember your first best friend?

The Friendship Obituaries

When life throws painful nonsense at you, write something.

Who gets through life without losing a friend? When I ask that, I don’t mean losing a friend to the world beyond the veil. The friendship isn’t dead in those cases. The person is gone, but the love, the care, the thoughts remain.

My friend blurred out...

No. I mean loss through argument, betrayal, and other dangerous doors.

The friendship dies and needs to be buried. Maybe you have a ritual for loss of this kind, but most of us, I think, don’t give these losses the attention they deserve.

Who breaks your heart more: friends or lovers?
(I hoped the stars helped you if friend and lover were one and the same.)

A few days ago a friend wrote me this: I do not want to be friends with any of you anymore. Do not contact me anymore. Leave me alone.

That’s clear, isn’t it? This friend wrote this to me and two others. The four of us had been friends since 1987.

The first time I met L…

…she stood next to a box at dorm room window. She introduced me to her mother. I thought she looked nothing like her mother.

I was right. Her mother was really her step-mother and I would later learn how her step-mother used to hit her with a hairbrush and call her a whore because a few boys had seen her underwear when she’d swung too high on the swing.

Her real mother had died a few months after she was born.

I had had a step-mother, and she and I shared a lot of stories in that dorm room. Perhaps I shared more. In my memory, I was more forthcoming than she was.

She shrugged a lot at the end of her stories.

She made me laugh though. She had a quirky sense of humor. “Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?”

“Why?”

“It died. Why did the second monkey fall out of the tree?”

“It died?””

“No. It was stapled to the first monkey.”

I laughed every time. I still laugh.

In favorite photograph of her I am hiding under a pile of pillows and she has a notebook in her hand. On a page she has written bad and drawn an arrow. She’s holding it so that the arrow points towards the pillows.

That was a long time ago.

Please leave your own Friendship Obituary. I plan on this being a series (because unfortunately I’ve the material). Other obituaries welcome.

Round and round she went, they said…

Today a friend of 25 years informed me she no longer wanted to be my friend. I’m not to contact her again. The reasons are guesses. Perhaps I paid too much attention to other things. Maybe she’s cutting herself off from a difficult past. Maybe something is going on in her life she doesn’t want me to know. 

It isn’t just me. A couple of other friends have been told never to contact her again. What does one say when this happens? Let her go or insist on an explanation?

She used to make up poems. 

Round and round she went, they said,

with anything under the sun.

But when came down to it,

she didn’t at all.

She made that up while we were hanging out in our dorm room. For some reason it stuck in my head, and decades later I still remember it. 

I wish her well.

Home as Seen on Television

Florida gets talked about a lot during an election year. It also tends to get mentioned in any article about serial killers.

I’m from Florida. Born and raised in the middle of the state by a single dad from Rhode Island. Out in the boondocks, an only child, it was like growing up in another universe. Florida was out there. I could see it. I walked around it. But somehow, I was never really there.

Or at least when I hear people on TV talk about Florida, I feel I’m not from there at all.

Do you find the portrayals of your home true or describing a place you’ve never seen?

We All Were Children After All

Orangeberry Books

I’ve never understood people who say they don’t like kids. They were once kids after all. Did they like being so easily dismissed by grown ups?

Not to mention I thought we were raised to avoid gross generalizations. There aren’t that many groups left you can publicly and happily state you don’t like. And what is to be gained from dismissing an entire group? You miss out on some interesting individuals that way.

Anyway, recently I met–in a cyberspace sort of way–a woman working on an anthology of stories from childhood. Dr. Niamh Clune is part of a new publishing venture that this week is coming out with their first book: Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence.

The proceeds will go to Child Helpline International, an organization that works to establish global helplines for children.

Perhaps you’d be interested in the book or at least passing this news on. You could friend Orangeberry on Facebook if you like, tweet, or participate in their Light-a-Candle campaign.

Somewhere between the time I was three and a stranger shot our family dog and ten years later when a strange man appeared at my bedroom window, I learned the world isn’t a safe place. We can’t protect children from every heartbreak in life–and if we did how would they learn empathy and develop as full human beings? But too many things children don’t need to experience, and I wish all us grown ups would give more thought to that.

My Miss Havisham

I met Miss Havisham late at night when I was 14 and alone in the house. I lived with my father, and he, as he was wont to do, was out for the night. Perhaps he’d be home at 3am or Sunday afternoon. He never promised any particular time.

from Great Expectations

We lived far from everything, fields around most of the house, a lake in front of the house, a highway in the distance. An only child, I had to find my own way to forget that the neighbors might not actually be close enough to hear screaming.

I’d curl up on the sofa and watch television. We got 5 channels, but two of them required going outside into the dark to turn the antennae, so after a certain hour, we really only had 3 channels.

On one of the channels I met Miss Havisham and fell in love with Charles Dickens. Perhaps you know his 200th birthday was the other day?

I watched the movie Great Expectations, and afterwards couldn’t stop thinking about Miss Havisham and Estella. They seemed to confirm my 14 year old perspective on love, and while I felt I was supposed to feel bad that Estella was being raised impervious to love, I also suspected this was not all together a bad thing. I rather wished I was Estella.

She was not afraid of boys.

But I feared I had far more in common with Miss Havisham–unstable and most likely to be left at the altar. Years later on my wedding day, when I was 27, I walked to the church in my wedding dress, my father at my side, with the slight nagging notion that my soon-to-be husband was going to change his mind.

I didn’t tell anyone Miss Havisham was at my wedding, but she was, quietly sitting in the corner of my mind, rather disappointed I wouldn’t be joining her.

Still, back when I was 14, having watched the movie, I went and read the book. The book was even better, and so I fell for Mr. Dickens.

Yes, he was flawed–seriously so–and not everything he wrote was perfect by any means, but how perfect does a writer need to be?

What if I could write one character that could stay with someone all of her life?

Is there any character like that for you?

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens. Glad you’re still with us. You know, in the way great story-tellers always are.