Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Hefty Price

In my pursuit of actually reading fifty books this year and being thrifty (ha!) I'm turning to those books that have been sitting on my shelves, unread. I just picked up Life After Life by Jill McCorkle, a book I received last year from Parnassus Books. I'm not very far in but already have the very deep feeling that at some point, this book will make me cry. The other day, during my afternoon commute, I came across a quote I've been thinking about ever since.

"The pain of losing the people you love is the price of the ticket for getting to know them at all."

How amazing, accurate, clever, and sad is that? The book used this quote in discussing death but it got me thinking about the other ways we lose people. Sometimes we lose people because we let them drift or we aren't willing to hold on. Sometimes that kind of loss feels just as permanent and just as painful.

The other night, I left a comment on an old friend's Facebook post. She's getting married next January and I inquired about where. She'd offered advice on some posts of mine back in 2012 relating to my wedding, so I thought I'd be nice and inquire. Offer advice, where I could, on planning a reasonable NYC wedding. What I didn't expect was that we'd spend the next two hours talking via Facebook chat - about her fiance, her prior abusive relationship, and both of our job situations. The reason I didn't expect this is that after being really good friends in high school, she and I had a rather bad falling out - I think it was our senior year - and stopped talking. It was a sad split that confused both our families. We got along really well, my family loved her, and we often did things together. She is one of those people I always check in on via Facebook because well, I care and all these years later I am still sad we stopped being friends.

We all have stories like this, don't we? Of ex-friends, peppered across our lives? Some of the failed friendships are breakups we regret, others were never going to work so were best ended, and some were just a time and place friendship of necessity. But for me, there is another category. Until a few years ago, I felt like I was never great at keeping friends. My life is full of friendships ended in fights, drama, a refusal to reconcile. Then there are those I let drift out of sheer laziness. A failure to keep up with my personal correspondence. Truth be told, I really don't have any friends from childhood that I still keep in contact with, had no bosom buddies from childhood at my wedding. All my friends are people I met from age 18 to the present. Sometime during college, I realized the problem is really me. All the pain I bear from lost friendships, the cost of the ticket, amplified by me kind of being a terrible friend. I had to learn to be a better friend and face a lot of my own flaws.

Until college I lacked the maturity to accept foibles when they were laid bare and could not readily distinguish the conflicts worth letting go from those worth standing my ground on. The result? I honestly let go of a lot of friendships worth holding on to and I've been trying to learn to stop regretting those failures ever since. Mostly, I've been working on this by trying to be a better friend. Being more open, less self involved, and more available. Part of it has been realizing that friends, really good friends, are key to grounding me and making me feel whole. Knowing how important surrounding one's self with good friends is, I owe it to them to support our friendship.

Anyway, all this to say that the quote and the conversation reminded me that this is something I need to continue to work on. I need to be patient, continue my correspondence, and let people know how important they are to me before I'm left alone cashing in a ticket for pain caused by no none but me. 


  1. I'm really lucky to count you as a friend. :)

  2. I'm really lucky to count you as a friend. :)

    1. :-) Thanks. I'm super lucky to have you as a friend. I mean seriously, you are awesome.

  3. That quote is amazing...and so is this post. You are a beautiful writer.