Reflections on Losing Friends

tumblr_mc5vf0jUMH1qzozjoo1_500This is a photo from Amanda Palmer’s Tumblr, with the caption “books are home.”

When I saw it go by in my Tumblr feed last night, I thought that I glimpsed the distinctive spine of a book a friend wrote. To the point that I downloaded the photo and magnified to see. I had this idea that it would be Karol’s book and I would write the story about what it meant to see her book on that shelf.

And how I mourn her still.

Even though it wasn’t her book, I had a happy feeling, knowing that her book is out there still and people read it. I know this because they search the Internet for her and sometimes find that blog post and send me messages. I hadn’t intended that, when I wrote it, but now I kind of love that I have that lasting connection to her through that.

I’ve been reading this book, The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women’s True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away, and it’s put me in a reflective mood. The essays are so varied, with different friendships and reasons that they didn’t last. One is about a friend who died, but also a friendship that formed around that death – and then faded away again. One “rule” that I’m extracting from all the stories is one I thought I knew already – it isn’t always about you.

In fact, it rarely is.

I think it’s human nature to believe the world revolves around us. Even though we learn as kids (ideally) that people lead lives when we’re not present, that revelation can be hard one. I remember when my stepkids were little. They would spend every-other weekend and one weekday night for dinner with us. Once they excitedly told us about a new restaurant in town (small town, so big news) and we said, yes, we’d eaten there. They insisted we hadn’t, because they hadn’t yet been. They couldn’t quite grasp that we did things when they weren’t around – as if we retired like companion androids to the closet, when not needed.

Eventually, we grow up and realize that other people have complex external and internal lives that have nothing to do with us. And yet, when a friend turns away, we automatically think it must be something we did. Or didn’t do. Most of the time, though, it’s really about them and what they need.

At any rate, it’s a very interesting book and has given me a lot of food for thought. It’s been lovely, too, to return to reading some nonfiction.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

6 Replies to “Reflections on Losing Friends”

  1. I just went back to read your post about Karol since I didn’t know you at the time. I can see how this post would cause you to reflect that way. That sounds like an interesting book that you read about Friends. And makes me realize I think the world revolves around me. I had a boss that used to say, “get over yourself” all the time. I thought she was a freak. But, not that she is retired I sort of miss her “say it like it is” attitude, because I need that more than I want to admit. For example, just last night I was a little upset that an author didn’t respond to a tweet or facebook post on the day of a big release party for her new book. Really? I was that stupid? Like I am the only fan she has? I think that is why I have been in a bad mood lately. I keep thinking about how other people are not doing something for me. I need to get over myself and think about others. That will take the focus off me. See? Even this reply to your nice post is all about me.

    1. I don’t think you made this all about you, Amy! But I think we all easily fall into the trap of thinking people make decisions based on us. I totally feel hurt when people don’t reply to my tweets, etc. I have to remind myself how likely it is they never saw it in the first place! Also, I love this comment – so thank you!

  2. So I went and read the original post, as I wasn’t fortunate enough to know you then, and now I feel as if I “know” Karol just a little bit too. At least you two had an all too brief chance to reconnect and recapture the friendship…so very sorry for your loss of a dear friend. Loss just doesn’t neatly wrap itself up and go away promptly on some magic anniversary. HUGS.

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