Sunday, July 20, 2014

My best friend

It has been a very long time since I had a real best girlfriend.  A girlfriend I could talk to on the phone for hours at a time.  Someone who understood how I felt and would let me talk about anything and everything until I was all talked out.

My sister was my best friend growing up.  We talked all the time.  We fought as sisters do and we'd make up.  Nothing could separate us.  That is, until she got married.  Then most of the time she was so wrapped up in the day to day of an 18 year old trying to take care of a tiny apartment, and being pregnant that she hardly had time for me.  As things became more routine, we eventually got our best friend groove back.  Then I joined the Air Force.  For the first few months, I was not able to talk to my best friend very often.  I had very few chances to call home during training and she was busy with her second child.  But, after I got stationed at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, DC, we were able to talk more.  We would talk an hour or more once or twice a week.  It was nice to have a best friend.  That seemed to change when her marriage fell apart.  Apparently, I could not sympathize in the right way or say the right words.  So, the calls became less frequent.  She visited me once, after I was married and pregnant with my first child.  She was divorced and seeing a muslim immigrant.  Later she married a friend's cousin from Pakistan.  She resented the fact that I would not come to her wedding in Pakistan.  At that time I was living in Germany, had two toddlers and I was not about to go to a third world country on my own or with two little ones and endanger our health.  When I was pregnant with my fourth child (and only daughter), she got angry at me on the phone.  Later I found out that her (second) husband didn't like her talking to me on the phone when he was home.  He felt that we were conspiring against him.  And, because I didn't know about or help her out of her abusive situation, she seems to have blamed me for it.  She later left the abusive SOB with the help of another friend.  I didn't know why she wouldn't talk to me until years later.  Since then, she has remarried her first husband but only spoken to me a handful of times.  Our best friend phone calls ceased 14 years ago and have never resumed.  I rarely get so much as a Christmas card.  It is a hole in my heart and life that can never be filled.  Although she said she's forgiven me (for what I am still not sure), she still doesn't speak to me unless we happen to be in the same place which doesn't happen very often.

So, I've tried to forge friendships with women around me.  I thought I had a friend in when we lived in Germany.  She was an officer's wife however and made it quite clear that enlisted wives were beneath her.  We went on a tour of Belgium together, with my two oldest sons (toddlers at the time) in tow.  While she enjoyed having the company, she made it clear that I was not only not her first choice but that I was actually a burden on the trip.  The purpose of the trip was to scout locations for a wives club (which was combined enlisted and officers wives at the time--that changed later) outing.  So, no we did not get close.  Oh, but Belgium is where I discovered the saint that would become my patroness, St. Walburga.  It was the first time I ever saw a woman saint depicted with a bishop's crook in her hand.  I later found out that Abbots are considered of the same rank as bishops and are often depicted with bishop's crooks.  St. Walburga was a physician, and abbess who later took over the whole abbey of men and women when her brother, the abbot died.  I took her as my confirmation Saint when I became a Catholic at Easter, 1998.

Since I was older than most mothers who had children the same age as mine, I usually had little in common with them.  Women my age have teenage or adult children, so they don't want to be around someone with young children.  In Texas, our parish had a wonderful women's group that had women of every age and situation.  It was great to be a part of a group at least, even if I could not find a close friend among them.  By then I had four children and, believe it or not, that was unusual even in a Catholic parish.  The support and friendship I felt there was wonderful, but I was sorely disappointed when we came to Oklahoma.  The parish here has no women's group and when I asked if we could have one, people looked at me as if I had two heads and asked why would we need such a group.  So, no women's group.

When I decided to home school, that made me even weirder.  Catholic homeschooling came out of the Protestant homeschooling movement which had been going on for decades before Catholics started doing it in large numbers.  However, when you are in a town (in Texas, mind you) where there is one Catholic Church in town and one on the outskirts of town, no Catholic schools at all, and you are one of the few white families (our parish was about 60% Hispanic, 30% Filipino, and 10% white--this is my estimation) it is very difficult decision on what to do about education.  However, there are schools such as Seton (since 1980) and Kolbe Academy Home schools that are Catholic and help you give your kids a good Catholic education.  I joined the on base home school support group.  They were very nice ladies, but they made it abundantly clear that Catholics weren't welcome to many of their activities.  The librarian there was great; she supported all home school mothers.  She would ask the group every year what books to order to help them.  She would fit as many of the books on our wish list as she could in her budget.  However, none of these women were going to be a close friend.

Here in Oklahoma, I've tried, too.  I even thought I had a friend who had children the same age as me.  As we got to know each other, I thought we were good friends but, like all the "girlfriends" I've had before, she was younger and had already established friendships.   I was invited over for group things but rarely did we do things together.  The first time she hurt my feelings, I tried my best to just take it and never let her know.  I think I was successful because I believe to this day she doesn't know how her actions hurt me when she picked another "friend" over me.  I tried not to let it make me bitter but in some ways it has.  I would write more about the hurts and disappointments over the years but I believe she reads my blog, so I will end it here.  I am trying to let it go and just be friendly when we see each other.  

I have one friend now with whom I talk on occasion, but it is the same thing.  Her two kids are grown and I am still raising mine.  So, we have lunch together.  Sometimes we go to a play or musical together.  The last time we went out we saw "Sister Act" on stage.  It was fun and funny.  I had a good time.  But, still not best friend fun.  I can't call her and talk for an hour on the phone and bear all to her.  I enjoy her company but it is not the same as my best friend/sister that I miss so very much.

As I go through my cancer treatment, I feel very much alone.  I have no best girlfriend.  I have no one to talk to until I'm done talking.  That best friend is gone and I feel alone.  I do have a "cancer buddy", as my daughter has named her, with whom I am talk sometimes.  She went through something similar to me in the Fall.  However, she's pretty much done and my journey goes on.  But, we only talk here and there.  It is usually an hour at a time but only about once every other week or so.

My mother has been my rock.  She stayed in the hospital with me both times and kept me company.  She lets me blather on the phone and get things off my chest.  I feel bad sometimes though because she has an ailing mother (my grandmother is 90 next month) and a daughter going through cancer treatment.  She's kind of sandwiched in between.  She's been wonderful.  I guess my mom is the best friend I can have for now.  While there are things I cannot tell her, I can tell her a lot.  God bless moms!  

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