I have wonderful memories of growing up with you at my side. We were inseparable. We walked to school together, sat together at lunch, and did our homework together.
We did it all with the easy familiarity and companionship that young friendships breed. I treasure those memories and the relationship we cultivated — they were a pivotal part of my childhood. You are one of the defining factors of who I am as a person.
After we graduated, we continued to spend plenty of time together. We went on long walks at night, supported each other through our first forays in the workforce, and bemoaned the ins and outs of dating. We were as close as ever. But then came the great separator: engagement. Mine, to be exact.
At first, it was fun and not at all painful. You were at my side through wedding planning and sheitel fitting. After the wedding, you helped me navigate burnt chicken and torn bedspreads by becoming my texting friend, though I no longer lived in town.
Things started getting a bit strained between us after my children began to arrive; one, and then another, and then baruch Hashem two more, all in quick succession. My life became a whirlwind of clics and mitzvah notes and chicken nuggets and carpool. I was finding myself with less and less to talk to you about, fewer and fewer things I felt comfortable sharing.
Whenever I’m in town at my parents’ home, you drop by to visit, and I’m always thrilled to see you. However, I can’t help but feel guilty when I inevitably have to interrupt our conversation to soothe a crying baby, break up a squabble, or hand out snacks. I feel my very existence highlights all you don’t yet have. Even when we go out together at night, sans children, I often find it hard to settle on a topic of conversation that connects to both of us and doesn’t involve family life. The easy comfort we once had is gone, replaced by awkwardness and sadness for leaving you behind.
I wonder if I should be open and honest with you about this. I know you bear me no grudge for moving on to the next few stages without you, but still — it must hurt. It must be hard to see the girl you taught how to roller skate living a life that’s so removed from your own.
I wish I knew how to be there for you without throwing our differences into sharp relief. I’m terrified of being condescending. I’m terrified of hurting you, of pouring salt on your wounds. I just don’t know what to say to you that will not cause you pain. And so, I’ve unfortunately allowed our relationship to slide a little.
I don’t call you often because I don’t want you to have to hear the childish interruptions in the background. I don’t go out with you frequently because I don’t want you to see how tired I am after being up all night with my baby. And I don’t share much with you because I don’t want to be inflicting hurt.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 638)
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