An open letter to a lost friend

To celebrate your anniversary, you posted a picture from your wedding on your Facebook page.  It is one of those perfect pictures, where everyone in it looks beautiful and the moment it captures is a moment worth capturing.  A moment that holds a million memories.

I remember the moment. I remember the song. I remember the dance.

I am in that picture. On the far right side. You could have easily edited me out.

We met when you were nineteen and I was twenty. We were instant best friends. For the next couple years we were inseparable. We liked the same music and books, TV shows and movies. The local pub was our second home and our circle of friends were the best people in the world.

And then…

You met your future husband.
You stopped going to the pub, because he didn’t drink.
You started eating the foods he ate, you started liking the music he liked.
His hobbies became yours.
You changed.

I started a new job, and gained new friends.
I started reading new books and thinking new thoughts.
I changed.

At a party, I said something to you that I will regret forever.

You moved away with him.

And then…

Two years later, inexplicably, you forgave me. You asked me to be a bridesmaid. I said yes.

In the picture, you and I are joined by two of our friends from those happy days. The song is “I Think I Love You” by the Monkees, and the dance is the routine we made up for it back in ’93 at the height of our Karaoke year.  We knew the song and the dance so well that even though it had been a while, it all came back to us like we’d danced it the day before.

I look closely at my face in the picture, looking for the signs of what I was thinking. It has been seventeen years since that well captured moment, but I will never forget those thoughts.

I was thinking about the horrible thing I said to you, at that party, the last time we did our dance to that song.

I was thinking about how I made you cry.

I was thinking about how the music for our song started as if timed with my terrible phrase, and how I pulled you onto the dance floor anyway and how you danced through your tears, and even managed to smile, but I knew that things would never be the same between us.

And they never were.

You moved back for a little while after your wedding, then moved away again.  I never really got to know you as a wife and mother, and now…  Now more things than a few nasty words separate us.

That captured moment contains the thoughts of another.  Inside that happy moment is a sad one. The words are meaningless, but the meaning behind them is clear. I thought it was his fault. He came along and suddenly my best friend was gone.  I missed you so much.  I lashed out at you with all my feelings of pain and loss and hit you where I knew it would hurt you the most: I insulted him.

But you forgave me.

I pull back my focus from my own face and look at the whole picture. We are beautiful. We are happy.

Maybe when you look at that picture, you only remember the joys we shared.  The fun we had together.  Because, I can see now, all of that is captured there too.

You could have cut me out of the picture, but you didn’t.

Another inexplicable forgiveness.  For that, and for all the moments this picture captured, the happy ones and the sad, I thank you.

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