And then one day she just stopped calling.
I didn’t necessarily notice at first. Life was busy, kids were messy, schedules were chaotic.
We’d been really close for quite a while. Our kids were in preschool together. Our broader friend group was the same. We did home improvement projects together, hung out with the kids when our husbands were working late, volunteered for various events together.
But one day, a shift began.
It wasn’t an all-at-once kind of a sea change. Our kids were now in different school situations. My friend was building a new home out on acreage outside of town. Her husband was in the midst of a huge career change. Time became compressed as our parenting and marital responsibilities expanded.
I called on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes she’d pick up. I saw her on occasion. Our paths would sporadically cross.
But…she just stopped calling. Calling to have lunch. Calling to hang out. Calling to chat.
I thought I had done something wrong.
Through the grapevine, I found out that my friend and her husband were now hanging out frequently with another couple. They took vacations together. Their kids were at the same school and they were often attending ball games and school events together. They were all attending the same church.
It stung a little more.
It felt like I’d been replaced.
That my friend had made an upgrade, me being the downgrade.
From time to time, as seasons passed, I’d run into my friend. She was always gracious, funny, attentive. We’d immediately connect, picking up where we left off.
And then she was off.
Off to her new friends. Her new areas of focus.
And I was off on another mental tangent, trying to figure out why we weren’t connected at the hip anymore.
Had I said something wrong?
Was I not fun enough?
Was my more limited budget in comparison to her larger one confining to her?
Did she find me irritating?
Did my kids irritate her?
Was something wrong with me?
Now, years later, I’ve got the advantage of being able to look back from a different perspective with a lot more experience. And now I have the experience as well of being the friend who drifts away. Not on purpose. Not with meanness or judgment. Just because…seasons.
There are people who come into our lives in a season. They are meant for that season. And then life changes. Responsibilities modify. Flight paths go from convergence to a fork in the road.
And it’s okay.
Yes, there are those friendships that last through the decades. I’ve got a few of these. I treasure them. These are the handful of friends that I’m doing life with on a consistent basis, whether we live on the same block or if we now live in different cities, even when our family situations are different. But I’m allowing my understanding of friendship to expand, to embrace those who come into my life for a specific stretch of time before moving on to their next assignments and adventures. It’s not about what’s wrong in the friendship; it’s about what’s right, that a trust and appreciation has been built to allow for new horizons and new connections.
Not every friendship is built for the long haul. And that doesn’t make it a bad friendship. It’s a natural cycle of things.
And some friendships are built for the long haul. Those are the unique ones.
Both types are good. For a purpose. Sweet.
To friendships that are seasonal and to those that are always in season, I’m learning to appreciate and celebrate both. I’m teaching my heart to not think of friendship status as ‘Active and All In’ versus ‘Dumped’. Hopefully I’m teaching my heart to embrace it all with a status of ‘Treasured’. No harm, no foul.