Letters and Diary Non-Fiction posted June 10, 2010

This work has reached the exceptional level
For my friend, Gaye

Ease My Pain

by Janilou

I once thought you were my friend. We met one winter's day when you whirled into the common room, introducing yourself to a group of nursing students at our hospital. We had 'clicked,' and became the best of friends. Do you remember all those carefree days we spent before husbands, kids and mortgages?

After we had finished nursing school, we both married and moved to different towns, but we still raised our children side-by-side. The road to each other's homes never seemed too long. We spent so much time together; it was like having another sister, only even better without all the childhood memories of done-thee-wrongs. Coffee, days on the beach, playgroup, school--the list goes on and on.  You were my confidante, and I thanked God so many times for our friendship. 

The dark days of domestic abuse dawned for both of us, and we struggled to make sense of it all. I wanted to ease your pain, and likewise, I confided everything in you. I trusted you completely.

 All at once, you were the other woman, and the person my children had grown up knowing as their honorary aunt, became their stepmother when you married my ex.  It didn't matter we'd already split up before you stepped in.  When did it begin, that love you felt for my husband? Had some secret affair been behind the destruction of our marriage? I wondered, doubted, and vowed we couldn't ever be friends again, not ever. Twenty years of friendship dissolved just like that and we didn't even need an attorney, but no amount of dark humor could take away the pain. I felt betrayed. 

They say time heals all wounds, but it isn't true. Time buries wounds, until a word spoken, a whiff of memory, tears open the wound, and the pain surfaces as though time itself dissolved into yesterday. One never really forgets.  

We both moved on, and I remarried. You still wanted to be friends. I didn't. I wasn't angry anymore. I just didn't want you in my life. I couldn't trust you, I told myself. At times, I mourned the loss, but how do you cross back over that chasm of mistrust? I remember how you cried when I told you. I tried to pretend I didn't care.

A decade passed, and still you tried to re-connect. After my mother's funeral, you acted as though everything was okay between us, wanting to pick up where we left off, so long ago. I asked you to leave.

Then it happened. A phone call changed everything.  "She's got cancer," your husband said, his voice choked with pain. I remember asking all the right questions, and hanging up the phone feeling as though I'd been punched in the stomach. All at once, those past hurts and pains evaporated. Why had they seemed so important until that moment? It was my turn to cry.

How many happy days of friendship might we have shared if I hadn't been so stubborn? It will always be one of my deep regrets, as we walk down this path of uncertainty we call the rest of our life.  It never occurred to me I was the one in need of forgiveness. How foolish I was to hang on to bitterness, anger and self-righteousness. I once loved you like a sister. Why did it take that phone call to realize I still do?

You're starting treatment, trying to be strong for everyone else, and I admire you for that. I know somewhere deep inside, you're as scared as I am. If you find it in your heart to forgive me and you need someone to talk to, just call. I can listen, and I can be your friend.

Ironic, don't you think? In the end, your friendship now may be the only thing that can ease my pain.


Personal, current and biographical. For those of you who like happy endings, you will be pleased to know that Gaye and I have restored our friendship. She continues to battle the cancer, and prayers are much appreciated.

There is someone or perhaps "someones" on FanStory who have promoted this piece all the way to the number one featured story. Whoever you are, you have blessed my heart. Thank you.
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