As someone who has had many friends over the last decade and more, I am also one of those people who has lost a friend or two. The loss has been brought about by involuntary reasons like death and voluntary reasons like out of sight, out of mind. Since I have been so indulgent in sentimentality when writing about friendships influencing my life, I thought I could follow it up with one or two stories of loss.
The loss of a friend, to me is of two kinds, one which is sudden and immediate with no undo button. The other is more silent and invisible, till one fine morning you wake up to realize the absence. I have been at the receiving end of both these phenomenon. The first is gut wrenching and painful or ego driven madness, the second is the sad kind, where you lose a friend or ten just like that, all of a sudden, they have moved on, or you have moved on and there is just so much of a distance both in terms of life choices and mental makeup that it seems impossible to reconcile the differences.
Today in the day of social media, I am in touch with many friends, who fall into that second group. I leave a comment or like something they post and they indulge me too. But the fact that sticks out as a thorn in my heart is somewhere I lost their friendship and having them on my friend list on a website doesn’t quite feel the same.
I have been extremely lucky to have made some friends for a lifetime at school, university and my PG institute. I must confess, having found these precious few friends, I seem to have grown quite careless towards nurturing and maintaining friendships. I didn’t belong to the age where technology was hard to come by. I had my cell phone, my emails, my social media. Yet, somehow I managed to alienate myself from the bulk of my friends. In the joy of here and now I probably let the years gone by slip away quietly. So out of the 3 close friends at school I probably can name one as still a genuine close friend who I speak regularly. Out of the Junior college days spent at a different school I can’t mention any name, as I had one best friend who vanished in exactly 3 years after we both went to different colleges. From belonging to a group of about 14 girls in my university days I am barely in touch with 5 through some social media site. I know about their lives as much is visible from their posts. I don’t even know where they live in my own Home City. I haven’t seen them in over a decade. Do you know how long it took for me to lose them? Exactly 6 months of completing my graduation final year exam, entering into a new PG program in another Institute! I have thankfully 3 friends from my Post graduation, funnily the 3 friends I was closest to during the actual PG program duration of 2 years, I don’t talk now. It took me 1, 3, 4 years to lose the 3 friends from the 2 years of the PG program. The last of the closest friend I had, I let go just about a year back.
Do you see the pattern? I am lucky at finding good friends but as a friend I am probably the poorest, because I seem to find retaining friends the hardest. Of course don’t imagine for a moment that I try hard. For me it’s out of sight out of mind, pretty instantly. If by some chance or luck the friend keeps in touch with me then perhaps I will stay in touch. You will not believe if I told you the laziness to write extends to friendships as well. If Sloth be a cardinal sin, I am pretty much destined for Hell right about now.
I wonder sometimes when I sit idly staring at nothing, where I went wrong. And I come that gut wrenching honest admission, I have had good friends and lots of friendships, but when it came to be the friend in the two way street of friendship, I stepped off the train, went looking for new people forgetting those waiting in the train. I wanted to make this part of the post sound deep with a beautiful metaphor. But gut wrenching truths don’t make good metaphors, do they? The balance sheet of friends and friendships may have some good assets and some liabilities that I seem to be good at getting rid of [read block from my life] but when I stare at the Profit & Loss statement of the same life of 30 years, the losses are numerous. Too many to write a blog post about, too many to apologize for, too many I can admit , too many I cannot admit, too many to count.
I am not becoming over sentimental about this just because I have hit the big 30, am I ? I am practical enough to know that all friendships cannot be retained throughout our lives. Yet, why do I feel a little sad, a little ashamed to write, post, like or message to a friend who is no longer a friend, who is now merely a batch mate. While I was typing this post, I took a little break and in that time I looked at these 2 friends from my college meeting up for lunch and a third planning to join them sometime soon.
And so it comes to me as a sobering thought, losing a friend is not a one way loss is it? Both the friends lose. I may want to sit and find reasons for regret and take a few guilt trips, the fact of life is, my friends also forgot me, my friends who I have lost, have forgotten me once, At some point of time, they stopped calling me to their gatherings, some point in the past they let me go and I was okay with it. Life is that kind of sobering thought, just when you feel filled with regret of loss, it reminds you, that life is all about letting go and accepting when let go in turn. Friendship is not really about a beginning or an ending; it’s about that journey you had with a few people. You can only hope at the very end of your life that you gave the ‘best of you’ to the friends in that journey. You can only hope someday when you no longer live and breathe the same air as they do, they will have a single good thought left for you.
I may have got off one of these trains some years ago and lost about 14 odd friends, but out of nowhere all thanks to social media, I made a surprisingly strong friend. Out of the blue at a very important time in my life, I self-invited myself to her city for a trip and since then there hasn’t been any looking back, we are still in different cities yet we talk every other day of more personal things than I would ever share on this blog or with any of my social media fueled friendships of liking and commenting on posts and although my profit or loss statement has a few gaping holes, I cling to my strong assets, a few friends who stood and stand the test of time , distance, my laziness, my over bearing personality, tantrums and emotional overtures. These few people have stood with me at the highest and lowest points of my life and I know they are the few who read and comment on my blog, who hear me crib about everything, who find my pj’s funny, who have brought more stability, patience and perhaps a little of inner peace to me.
I look out and see the scrap of blue sky and I know it is the friendship of the precious few that has made me the person who recognizes and feels the sorrow of having lost many friends, but it is also the strength of the few that reminds me not to go into a chasm of despair, instead be thankful and mindful of the follies of youth that makes it easy to lose friends without even realizing it till it is too late. So, I don’t wish to share regret of the friends I lost but to remember the amazing times I had with them, for the little memories that make me nostalgic when watching a Harry Potter movie or reading about the good ole university in news. I am also somewhat glad that at least, the idiotic social media that I am so addicted to has allowed me to be in some kind of touch with the past friendships that may have been lost completely.
Thank you my friends of the past, the present, and hopefully the future for being there, even though I may have not been of much use to you.