As a child, I would hear people talking about friendships dwindling into adulthood. It seemed ridiculous. Of course I’d keep in touch with my friends. Every friendship was important to me so why wouldn’t I? And to an extent, I did.
Not so many years ago, I had a group of friends I’d see every now and then. There were others I’d keep in touch with – a phone call here and an occasional meet up there. At Christmas, we’d send a card or buy a gift. When we got together, it was like we’d never been apart. The laughter flowed and we talked about old times and new.
The friend who fell by the wayside
I never really had a best friend as a child. I’d drift between groups and strike up friendships, some of which have stood the test of time. But during the last year of high school, all that changed. For maybe 12 months, I experienced what it was like to have a best friend. It was a long time ago now, and I forget why exactly we got on so well. But what I remember above all else is the laughter. We shared a similar sense of humour and we’d giggle until our faces ached. She made the last year of school so much more fun.
And when we went our separate ways for university, I assumed she’d always be in my life. And then, for a reason that I still don’t understand nearly 20 years later, it stopped. Just a few months after starting university, I phoned her to arrange a get-together in the Christmas holidays. It had been several months since we’d seen each other and there had always been a reason why she couldn’t make it. But this time, I finally realised she just didn’t want to.
I was sad for the friendship I thought I had, but I knew it was time to move on. Even now, I sometimes wonder how she is, but most of all I hope that I will never be that friend. I hope my chaotic life never makes anyone feel that I no longer value their friendship.
The truth is, I don’t see many of my friends anymore. The pace of life has increased exponentially over the past few years and I can’t remember the last time I picked up the phone to a friend. In the past, I’d send birthday cards and Christmas gifts. I’d make the effort to go and see people wherever they were, even on the other side of the world.
But then, life happened. Marriage, babies, toddlers, work, sport, sleep (occasionally), pets, accidents. And little by little, I stopped getting in touch. Stopped sending cards, going to get-togethers and talking on the phone. And now, it almost seems as though the moment has passed. Just like I did all those years ago, everyone has moved on with their lives. Lives that I’m no longer a part of.
It’s not you, it’s me
So to the people I’ve neglected, I’m sorry. The cards and gifts may have stopped, but the thoughts of you haven’t. I don’t see you, message you or pick up the phone. The truth is after all this time, I don’t think I know how. But I want you to know that I wasn’t that person. I might be the friend who fell by the wayside, but I didn’t make a decision to let you go. And if ever you decide to pick up the phone, I’ll be just as pleased to hear from you as I always was.