Friendships That End and Those that Endure by
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(286 Stories)

Prompted By Ex-Friends

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Friends that date back to 1971

I’ll admit over the years, I have ghosted a few former friends. These people were not really true friends, even though I liked them for brief periods of time. But when the light bulb went off that they were users and most of the giving came from me, it was easy to let them go. Just stop giving.

It is said that a predictor of happiness and longevity as we age is maintaining strong friendships.

On the other hand, I still feel guilty about how I handled some friendships when I was younger. Freshman year of college, there were three of us sharing a small dorm room. I know this is a cliché, but three women was not a great number to get along, at least back in the 60s. Ultimately, I sided with Elaine and we excluded Sylvia. My shame over this behavior is compounded by the fact that Sylvia died before graduating college. Sometime in our junior year, she asked to meet me for coffee and told me she was dying of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Perhaps she wanted to clear the air between us, or perhaps she wanted me to feel badly about our relationship freshman year. Mission accomplished. I have no memory of what I said, but I was not mature enough to do more than hug her and wish her well.

Two years later, I was in my first job, teaching high school English. I didn’t have a car, but one of my colleagues offered to drive me, as she passed by where I was living. Sometime during that year, she stopped speaking to me during those rides. We sat in awkward silence because I lacked the maturity to confront her. I had no idea what happened. Did she want me to offer to pay for gas? Had I said something in casual conversation that offended her? This still bothers me, but I can’t find her online to have the conversation I should have had 55 years ago.

Chavurah women folk — celebrating 50 years of friendship this fall

My current friendship group has remained pretty stable. Of course, over so many years, some relationships have waxed and waned. But I can’t think of any that have ended. In fact, some were strengthened by the need to reach out and support one another through COVID and aging. I have been regularly zooming two old friends with whom I had lost touch (featured image). Time and geography made seeing them on a regular basis challenging, but once we started zooming regularly, the spark that made us friends 50 years ago was reignited. Same with the women in my Chavurah (Jewish friendship group), who have become closer through our weekly zooms. And the women with whom I worked at Cherry Preschool. We retirees have stayed in touch. I also have two close friends with whom I meet every week. Our time together is a combination of organ recitals and therapy — priceless.

Weekly “therapy” buddies

At this stage of life, I work harder to communicate with friends. I can’t afford to let small issues end friendships as I did when I was younger. It is said that a predictor of happiness and longevity as we age is maintaining strong friendships. I plan to hold onto mine.

Close friends from our days at Cherry Preschool

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: been there, moving, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    I think you have nicely outlined how maturity brings recognition of how to be a good friend and the merits that friendship brings. Zoom has given us a chance to stay connected (certainly during COVID), but even beyond, through geographic separations. Your friendship groups are so meaningful to you and you’ve now shared them with us. Thank you for that pleasure.

  2. Thanx Laurie for your story of both lost and lasting friendships. This week’s writing prompt and the stories have evoked memories and given me the impetus to reach out to some seldom-seen friends!

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    I’m sorry for the missed opportunities in your younger days, but it sounds as if you learned from them and have nurtured friendships very well over the years. It reminded me of the old Beatle song lyrics “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Love the pictures too!

  4. I am impressed with the clarity of the earlier memories you conjured up. Your examples sounded familiar enough to make me believe that I too had experienced some break in communication or friendship–but unlike you, I managed to compartmentalize and then almost totally erase all details! So bravo to you. Also, it was nice idea to round out the piece by identifying some more successful. patterns of enduring friendship. Again, kudos to you, I don’t think my gender is usually as adept at this as your gender–but that’s no excuse, and I need, even at this. age, to work harder at it.

    On a small note of language usage, I did not think that the concept of “organ recitals” had made it outside the disability community that tends to (laughingly)use that phrase. I guess we shall find out if any other readers ask about it.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Those early memories are clear because I am haunted by how the relationships ended. I was too immature to be honest and open. As far as “organ recitals” goes, all of my friends use it when we exchange info about how we are doing. It’s not specific to disabilities in my friendship groups.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    Our friends are our life’s blood, especially when literal family cannot fill that space in our souls. I had never heard of a “Chavurah” until I read this.

    Zoom has facilitated keeping in touch, but at the same time I think it also accentuates how much we need actual contact with those we love.

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