In our first few years of marriage my Mom died, my husband grew increasingly depressed and I was in a church that talked a lot about God’s victory without being comfortable with suffering or negative emotions. In order to survive those years I ended up shutting down bits of my soul. As a result, I grew apart from most of my college friends. They were used to me being earthy, funny, transparent, sure a bit 'religious', but someone you could talk with about anything. Suddenly they had instead someone who spoke brightly of all she was learning from the Lord as her world crumbled. It didn't fit.
As you can imagine, emotional comas and long-distance friendships don’t work very well. One of my closest friends, Philospher really, really tried. She was wonderful after Mom died. She sent me The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, she continued my Mom’s tradition of sending me children’s books for Christmas and birthdays, she called often. Every time I got off the phone with her it took me a few days to regain equilibrium (a fragile balance as I stood on an abyss of emotion without any real relational support). I had lots of prayer from amazing people, but not many safe places to be sad. Philosopher was trying to help me be real in my sorrow, but I didn’t have anywhere else to do that at the time, so it was easier to stay shut down and resist her efforts.
For some strange reason, we grew apart.
We tried for the next couple years as I found a safer community and started becoming ‘myself’ again. But it was hard to reknit our friendship’s ragged edges long distance. During our time in Baltimore, she wrote me a letter about getting married and losing her Dad. I wrote a long letter back sympathizing and telling about my emotional journies. I never heard from her again.
During my four recent days of glorious unemployment, I saw her name on an on-line networking list. I sent a tentative email and received an enthusiastic one in return. Wednesday we met for lunch. And picked up where we left off during college. She tried to write back to me after my long heart-felt letter, but was embarrassed by her own melodrama as she mourned her father. "I wish you'd sent the letter," I answered. "It's still around somewhere," she responded, "I'll show it to you sometime."
The weird part is that it’s hard to convey how whole my soul feels with this raveled edge knitted up. Very few of my current close friends know anything about her. Jrex knows, and he’s really happy for me, but it’s not like I can run around saying, “Philospher is my friend again!” and have instant, “That’s great!” reactions from my friends. I have to give them the whole long boring speech I just gave you.
I’ll just hug it to myself and inflict it on the five people who read my blog…