Tomorrow is my birthday. The older I get, the more moody and reflective I become. I suppose this happens to everyone. My birthday reminds me of birthdays past and the good times and bad times I associate with each of them. It makes me think about my friends: lifelong friends, friends I have made as an adult, and those that over the years have drifted away from me.
I have a friend whom I haven’t spoken to in about three years, give or take. Today I feel his absence, not because he always called me on my birthday, but because he notoriously always forgot my birthday. He forgot a lot of people’s birthdays, and I used to remember them for him.
We became friends the summer I graduated from high school, and I can’t just erase a person like that from my life. We went through a lot of stuff together—all of the dramas and adventures of my late teens, 20s and into my 30s. We experienced an amazing amount of laughter, and we shared heartaches as well. He was part of my family.
To make a very long story short, he got married, and his wife was not comfortable with him having a close female friend. I know that is a very tricky situation; I am lucky to have married a man who had no problem with me having a close male friend. I was open from the beginning of my relationship that I had a male friend who was one of the key players in my life. I know that the dynamic is different when a man has a close female friend, and it can be a bit of a double standard.
A few years into my friend’s marriage, an ugly situation came about that led to us not speaking. We talked one day, and then that was it. I haven’t heard his voice since. The breakup of our friendship started a huge transition period for me. I started a new position at work that took me out of the office where I had worked for eight years. I was in the early days of my second pregnancy. I went through a bit of a depression and really mourned the loss of the friendship.
It was the first time I had broken up with a friend as an adult. As a kid, you pick up your toy and play with someone else and get over it. I wish it was that easy now. I was sad, I was angry, and I placed a lot of blame on his wife. Time has given me some perspective, and I know that he had to make the decision that was best for his marriage. I do not fault him for that. I still have dreams where he makes an appearance—not as many as I used to, but it still happens. I yell at him a lot in those dreams and ask him why he is there. The dreams rarely contain any laughter and that makes me sad. I miss his laugh. He has the best laugh when he really gets going. To hear a fit of giggles come out of such a big guy? Man, it was the best.
I feel like too much time has passed now, though. He doesn’t know anything about my kids or what has been happening with my family and vice versa. We are separated by a sea of hurt feelings and time. About a year ago, I was cleaning out my closet and found old letters and cards from him. I threw them away. I didn’t have any happy feelings tied to them any longer. I don’t even know what I would say if we did talk again, and it is probably best that we do not for the sake of his relationship.
But I do miss him from time to time.
Especially today, right before another birthday.