She got a job and I went to college.
She called off her engagement and I got married.
She was single and I was expecting my first child.
My friendship with Nicole was easy when our lives mirrored one another, but it became all too difficult to maintain that same depth of a friendship when life began to take us down very different paths.
From the start of middle school through our high school graduation, we were inseparable—bus rides to school, weekend sleepovers and even tagging along on each other’s family vacations. Our friendship, it felt more like a sisterhood than anything else. We fought like sisters and loved like sisters.
But following our high school graduation, our lives ventured into their own individual journeys and the mirror no longer existed. For five years that sisterhood of a friendship died. We lived minutes from each other and rarely spoke or visited, and the lost was devastating. During those years, we both cried a lot, as if we were mourning a death. But in this case, it was a death that had the potential to come back to life with hard work and honesty.
I don’t remember now what caused me to text Nicole after five years of silence. Maybe it was just that I missed her in a way that made it hard to breathe at times, but for whatever reason I took the first step and tried to reintroduce myself to an old friend.
We met for coffee and realized through our tears just how difficult it is to keep even the best of friendships alive when life deals you both very different cards than you’d initially expected.
I was hurt that Nicole wasn’t present in my big milestones of marriage and pregnancy.
She was hurt because my big milestones were a reflection of the life she wanted but hadn’t yet received.
That honesty and confrontation restored one of my most prized relationships in this world. Losing her for five years was painful, but what we both gained because of that loss is immeasurable.
Restoring our friendship back to its roots taught us both powerful lessons:
Celebrating the successes of another human being isn’t always easy.
Being able to be happy for another person’s achievements can feel impossible at times.
When the friendships we cherish most are absent from the most important moments of our lives, we must remind ourselves that there is a reason for the absence and that reason is not tied to the value of the friendship.