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The death of a friendship: Other Voices

What makes a best friend? Perhaps it’s someone you speak with on a regular basis or someone you have coffee with once a week. Maybe it’s someone you go out with or the person you seek out when you are having a bad day.

When you begin to build a friendship with someone, is there a point when you realize that this person is becoming your best friend? Would you allow the development of that relationship to continue if you knew that it could someday end and bring sorrow to your happy life? I wouldn’t. And I haven’t. Except for the time when I didn’t see it coming.

My sixth-grader, by her own proclamation, has a new best friend every year, depending on who is in her class. What’s interesting though, is that she still belongs to a core group of girls she played with in kindergarten. Every year they get together for each other’s birthday parties. They have known each other longer than they’ve known their current best friend, so is longevity of a friendship not a criterion for best friendship?

My best friend was someone who gradually became an important person in my life. We communicated on a regular basis. We had coffee once in a while and would hang out together at social events and vent when we had a bad day. But I think the main reason this person became my best friend was because we seemed to just “get” each other.

I knew that this person had become a part of my life and that we would be friends forever.

Sadly, I was mistaken. I remember the day the downward spiral of this friendship began and I knew it was just a matter of time until the flatline appeared.

It’s been a very painful process, the dying friendship. I think of things throughout the day and I turn to my various communication devices to tell something that only my best friend would understand (because it takes years to develop that code that best friends speak) and I have to stop myself, because I know that it’s no longer OK to type and hit the send button.

I try to reach out, but every conversation we have is awkward and silent.

My good intentions to rectify what has gone terribly wrong turn into strands of frustration that make the tangled mess even worse. And while my friend claims to miss me, and our friendship as well, this seems to be quite clearly a case where too much damage has been done.

When I was a child, I remember watching the movie “The Way We Were” with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. I remember thinking that they should just give each other a big hug and say I love you and then they would stop fighting. To a child, it’s that easy.

I so badly want my friend back. But, while the child in me still believes that it would be easy enough to hug and make up, the adult in me understands it isn’t that easy.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful marriage and beautiful, happy children. My days are filled with activities and projects for which I am passionate, and I know I can count on help from my good friends if ever needed.

Why then, has the deletion of this one person from my life been so difficult for me?

My advice to myself would be to get a life and move on. Well, I do have a life, but threaded through all the tiny holes in my wonderfully happy life was that friendship with that particular person. The thread has now been severed and removed, and my tightly woven, happy life has become a little undone.

So is my daughter on the right track? Is it best to let your friends pass in and out of your life? Or can people really have a best friend and maintain that relationship for life?

I know the latter is possible, but the former sounds safer.

I’m looking at this past friendship as an experience. I still have a modicum of hope that this friendship can be revived, but I’m sure that at some point, I’ll need to pull the plug. In the meantime, I have laundry to do.

Deborah Rockey is a Los Altos resident.

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