Sunny Days in DC

Jack of All Trades, Master of 3-ish.

On Forgiveness…

on February 25, 2013

This weekend, two friends of mine showed up to spend the weekend with us. They were very close friends of mine in college. In fact, I like to think I had a hand in getting them together, although in my heart, I know their marriage was inevitable. They brought their son, and the six of us shlepped around DC in the rain.

Before they left, I gave them a present. It was their wedding present that I had never been able to give them, because I missed their wedding. See, the Friday before they got married, eight years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. We had only just gotten my step father through his last round of chemo for cancer, and now my mom…

….you know what? I could make a bunch of excuses, but the reality is that I kind of lost my mind for a little bit. Everything in my world tilted on its axis, and…. I lost track of it. I thought it was saturday, but it was sunday… and that’s how I missed their wedding. I know how that sounds… how do you lose a day? But I did. I should have been more on the ball. I should have focused on what mattered, but I fucked up, and by the time I was on the bus to go to the wedding, it was already over.

I turned around and came home.

And what’s worse, I never told them. I spent years holding on to that wedding gift, hoping that someday, somehow, they would forgive me, even as I refused to call them. And the longer I held on to my shame for not being there, the bigger it got, until it was a crushing weight that I couldn’t get my head out from under.

“Just CALL them,” my husband said, “and explain! They’ll understand!” but it had been too long, and I was too scared.

Then, four years ago, and I don’t remember how, I did it. I picked up the phone, or I emailed, but somehow, I sort of explained what happened. We got back in touch, but it was like early cell phones: weak connections.

Finally, a month ago, they reached out and said, “enough is enough, and we’re coming to visit you, and just wrap your head around that.” And they planned it out with my husband. And maybe the first 20 minutes were a bit awkward, but then I gave them my gift. I explained that I had held on to it, but I don’t know if they really understood what that meant.

Through moving states, houses, and apartments, I held onto that gift. Through holidays, losing loved ones, gaining friends, I held onto that gift. The birth of my son, the loss of my job, one of the most amazing and also trying years of my life, and that gift sat in our dining room, waiting. Wrapped in wedding paper that grew soft and tattered around the edges, I held onto it, hoping that I would finally be able to be a part of their lives again.

And this weekend, I feel like I was. We talked like we had in college, but this time it was about adult things. Mortgage prices, and how to put clothes on your child for cheap (FUCK YEAH, eBAY!). We talked about car notes and strollers, and whether we could afford to have a second baby… and each word was a balm on my heart. Each time she smiled at me, I thought, “forgiveness…”

I let my shame keep me from my friends, and I lost years of time with them. For that, I don’t know that I could ever forgive myself… but this weekend, at the very least, I felt like I had the opportunity to start fresh… or maybe as close to fresh as I will ever let myself get.

21 responses to “On Forgiveness…

  1. This is nice! I love it when you tag: Not A Funny Post. Lately, my life should be tagged that way…

    • H. Stern says:

      Your life should be tagged, “All the delicious things I will make for my new blogger friend, Hannah, because I know she likes to eat, but is super lazy, and just reads recipes and orders pizza.”

      ……….but that’s a super long tag.

  2. fddancewear says:

    Bravo…here’s to old friends and good friends.

  3. reneemaynes says:

    Life keeps going on even when we can’t. Glad you got the opportunity to give them the gift.

  4. lillylion says:

    You are so real I am drawn to your honesty! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that there are people like you, your hubby, your smiling friend in the world. Forgiveness. Life isn’t perfect, the people who remember that are the keepers. Now let UP on yourself, sistah!

  5. Great symbol, that gift was. Nice, nice, nice blog. You are getting a lot of emotional validation in your life lately, it seems — your husband, now these friends. That’s nice, nice, nice.

    • H. Stern says:

      I don’t know if I’m getting a lot of emotional validation… but thanks! I think sometimes things come together, and sometimes they fall apart. Right now, things are sorta coming together. I hope they stick, because so far it’s been almost ten years of struggling to keep from falling apart. I could use a little relaxing, smooth sailing.

  6. This gives me hope for a relationship of my own that’s very similar. I’ve been friends with the wife of a couple since we were 5, so almost literally all my life. Things fell apart a little at the end of high school and through college, but we came back together when she got married and even more when I got married and even more when I moved back to our home town where she lives. But since I got pregnant with my second child, she’s been AWOL in my life. I found out I was pregnant last year in mid-February and I haven’t seen her since about a week before that and it hurts my heart SO MUCH that, for whatever reason, she doesn’t want to see me. Her sister-in-law had a baby the day before me and was two doors down and she didn’t come to see me. It’s always they’re too busy or things are crazy or she doesn’t have much time. I’ve tried so hard, contacting her so many times and offering to meet up on her terms, whatever they may be, that I feel like I’m begging her to be my friend again. I always say I’m going to give up and yet, I always try just one more time. So this gives me hope.

    Maybe in a few years time, she’ll come back, she’ll want to hang out with me again, she’ll want to talk and see me and things can get back to somewhere close to where we were before. It’ll never be the same, I know, but now I can hope that something will fix it. I got a fixed relationship after 16 years apart (geez, I’m not even 30 and I have so many “broken” relationships it’s ridiculous) and that one is fucking amazing. She’s my same-sex hetero soulmate.

    Also? You basically swap baby clothes with other people. All you pay is the shipping. Or find an awesome consignment store in your area or look into a giant consignment/garage sale type thing in the area. Just Between Friends is the name of one in the DFW area (I know that’s not your area, but it’s a name you could maybe google?) and the one in my area is called Dittos for Kiddos. Gently used clothes is the way to go. My boys get lots of hand-mi-downs from other people.

    • H. Stern says:

      GAH!! LOVE helpful comments!!! I’ll check out ThredUp, thanks!!

      As for the relationship stuff, three things I’ve learned:

      1) I, and probably you too from what it sounds, will put up with a tremendous amount of bullshit from people, because I tell myself that they have a good heart. I would say that 85% of the time, I’m right.

      2) That 15% means that there have been times where I’ve put up and put up and put up until I can’t take it anymore, and the relationship ends. That’s only ever happened ONCE so far, where we’ve gotten back together. Like you, she was so close to my heart, that it was worse than a romantic breakup when we parted ways. She was in a bad place, and I don’t know if there was anything I could have done to help. I think it was just something she needed to work through. But I never stopped loving her, and when she showed signs of wanting to reconcile, I put my hand out there. But there’s a fine line between being available to someone for reconciliation, and being a floormat…

      3)…which I have been in the past, and so I’m putting a warning out there. Please don’t take this the wrong way, because I don’t know the details of your situation, but I just want to say: you’ve tried. You tried your best, and it sounds like you tried on multiple occasions. You tried to meet on her terms, at her times… you can’t do more than that. Frankly, it sounds like she isn’t ready. Maybe you’ve already pulled back to give her some space, but honestly, I would leave the ball in her court. If she makes any overtures toward friendship, yeah, ok, but for whatever reason, she doesn’t sound responsive. That’s sad for her. Call emotional Time of Death on this, and move on.

      I have two friends who disappeared when I got pregnant. It crushed me, but I assumed they just had better things to do with their time. After Max was born, they said they wanted to see me, but they could only see me on the weekend, at my house. I explained that I had tons of family coming by to see the new baby, so that probably wouldn’t work. They wouldn’t hear it; it was on their terms, or not at all. Well, not surprisingly, I had a conflict. They were livid. It turns out that they didn’t really want to see me or Max… they were pregnant and they wanted to announce it. I’m happy for them, but I had to call time of death on that friendship. I had a difficult delivery, and I was deeply hurt when the *only* reason they wanted to see me, was so that they could announce. You can tell it’s still fresh… cuz I just wrote an entire post in this comments section, huh? 😉

      • It’s always the friends we think are forever and turn out not to be that hurt the most and cause the most rantings.

        I rarely take offense, and for years, I was her doormat and part of the separation in college was me suddenly realizing that a real friend wouldn’t treat me that way. I started insisting on better treatment and she resisted that.

        I’ve pulled back a lot and while I doubt I’ll ever call tod on it, the relationship is definitely in a coma. Maybe when she finally starts having her own kids (7 years married, trying for 5 and fertility issues for her vs less than 5 years married and a 2 yo and a 5 mo for me) she’ll come back. It’s possible that’s all it is: jealousy. The ball is definitely in her court now.

        • H. Stern says:

          That’s rough, the fertility bit. Sometimes people don’t realize how much they want kids, until they have a tough time having them. I fully expected to have a rough time getting pregnant, because my mom had it tough…. nope! We were very lucky. But I watch some people struggle… I hope things work out for your friend, and I hope she realizes what she’s missing.

  7. The Frantic Blogster says:

    This is so wonderful. And that you kept the present through all those years, wow. I think they understood, they must have. Anyone would understand.

    I envy you. I’m not sure why, but I do.

  8. I love how you kept the gift after so many years and was able to give it to them finally. That’s beautiful. It really is. They must be great friends and I’m glad that you guys reconnected. Those are the friends you’ll cherish forever. Keep in touch with them.

    • H. Stern says:

      I did keep it, and thank you. They are really good friends, and I think writing this post let me see how good they are. I don’t know that I really appreciated how much they must care, until they were like, “We’re visiting. Get over it.”

      So, clearly, my only option now is to stalk them, and send them texts multiple times a day.

  9. momany says:

    And this is why I am so proud of you each and every day:) Love ya kiddo!

  10. I am so happy for you for reconnecting! Isn’t it an amazing feeling? I recently reconnected with someone who was once my best friend. We didn’t see or speak to each other for over a decade. It has just been happiness having her in my life again.

  11. ekgo says:

    This is a good story. It’s hopeful and growful and makes me happy. But it also makes me sad because sometimes, broken friendships stay broken, even if you want to fix them. And that’s sad. Did they write you a thank you note for the gift? Did they note the old, worn paper? Because I think I’d have noticed that first off and it would have made me cry.

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