It casts a deep shadow on her heart and soul, the guilt of feeling like she didn’t do enough; she didn’t really hold up her end of the bargin. Friendship is two ways – this thought is part of why she did what she did – feeling like she wasn’t receiving any friendship back.
The reasoning is valid enough, but this wasn’t a usual friendship. He wasn’t like other people. He was broken. He may still be but she doesn’t know because she hasn’t spoken to him in about a year’s time. In the months, even years, prior to her cutting off the friendship, she’s experienced friends slowly pulling away. They stopped treating her like a true friend. She’d become that out of sight, out of mind friend and it was easy to dismiss her. She had grown tired of always being pushed aside when she’d go out of her way to be in contact with her friends. When he started to do the same, she could only tolerate so much.
She’d met him online through a chat room. It’s not always easy to admit to that because it’s not her preferred method for meeting people but she’d go into this one room because she had established friendships and it was a means of socialization for her. Her social life had become limited by making career choices that put her in small towns and not having much choices in terms of dating or much ability to make new friends. The chat room was a way of at least getting to talk to people even if it was just type on a computer screen. She often felt pathetic about this but it was better than always being her own company. As much as she loves music and is fond of it’s companionship, sometimes she simply needed to have human interaction of some kind.
It was like any other night – she got online after work, shortly after a visit to her home state of Colorado. It turns out, she just missed having an opportunity to met him offline as he had recently exited the U.S. Marine Corps and was in Colorado right after she returned to her California home. He got online, also to try and talk to people, not looking for anything. For whatever reason, she was drawn to him and greeted him to the room. Before long they spoke one-on-one. From there they developed a friendship over time. He opened up to her and told her about his heartache and why he left the Corps. It would turn out to be temporary as his pain would drive him back to the only career he’d ever known; the only one where he felt like himself.
She loved his sense of humor and sense of honor, not only because he was a Marine but because of how he carried himself. They shared similar values and she was drawn to that. She loved that he wasn’t a stereotype, he would rather be at home reading than in a bar. She loved the sound of his voice and though they never met offline, she felt comfortable with him. She’s had a tendency to be drawn to “projects,” and while in some ways this situation could be considered a project because of all the pain he held in his heart, it wasn’t about that; he wasn’t a project. She cared about him; he was smart, funny, engaging, strong, independent, respectful. She always hoped to find a way to help him through whatever it was he was facing. She really hoped that somehow the friendship would become more but it was made clear that, despite an apparent mutual interest, distance and time were too difficult to overcome. She decided it was better to be friends and have contact of some kind than none at all.
Time marched on and his time in the Corps and being on the opposite side of the country did indeed take it’s toll. He met someone and was with her for a time, but unfortunately when that didn’t work out, he turned to his friend. She was happy to be there for him but when it was all over, he went absent again. She’d been going through her own pain, losing her grandfather and dealing with family drama dragged her down. She needed his support but he couldn’t be there for her. She dealt with it but when he apparently lost her number, possibly repeatedly though she doesn’t know the full story, it became too much. After the fourth time of being asked who she was when she contacted him because he didn’t recognize the number, she simply said forget it. It’s clear this friendship is over. Words that haunt her still.
There’s good reason to stand up for oneself, to know that sometimes things are meant to last forever, but the shadow from the guilt of letting go of a friend who really needed steady friendship, has gained weight. It bears down on her heart now. She needed to be more patient. She’d always been that person but because of changes in her due to other circumstances, she went the other way. She feels she should have been more tolerant, give him more grace because he hurt more than most. Wasn’t it her duty to be his friend? Wasn’t part of why they were friends because he felt she didn’t judge him? She didn’t make assumptions about his military time, never bothered him with loaded questions. To her, she feels she betrayed him, even though he was letting her down as a friend. She still thinks of him and hopes that somehow things have worked out for him, that he’s found a way to deal with his demons. She still prays that by some miracle she’d hear from him, not for any reason other than to be friends.
She worries about him because at the time of disconnect, he was struggling so much. She doesn’t know if he’s been deployed, if he’s depressed or other hardships are weighing him down. She does know she feels unbelievable guilt for not being able to help him, to be a resource. Then again, maybe the world, to a point, has been righted for him and there’s no need to worry. That would be nice. She’d just settle for knowing he’s okay. The not knowing is so difficult. It may always be a burden. She will always miss him. She will always miss the friendship.