As seen in Your Tango
Six months after I moved twenty miles north and four towns away, she dumped me.
Twelve years as neighbors and confidantes down the drain. Eight years spent keeping an eye on each other’s infant monitors, hoisting toddlers on the tree swing between sips of afternoon coffee and US Weekly gossip, and laughing on the front wall as we witnessed the progression from tricycles to two-wheelers. Gone.
She wrote the final send off in an email after I poked at her distant tone and repeated lack of availability to visit my new home and more importantly, get our children together.
Guilty, overwhelmed, and pressured were the words she used. My definition of and requirements for friendship proved jarring to the healthy life balance she had worked hard to create. Making adjustments was not an option.
The explanation was thin. “Me-me-me-me” appeared so many times in her note by the end, my diaphragm felt primed for an operatic performance. In reality, I was no longer a convenient source of daily company. I no longer served a purpose. So I got kicked out of her cocoon.
I should have seen the break up coming.
At the school carnival when I passed her huddled on the stairs with a mommy crew and was met with a weak smile and passing glance instead of an introduction.
The weekend she was too consumed by her third child’s birthday party to pop in to the Welcome to the Neighborhood brunch my husband and I threw for the couple buying our home which I organized just so she could meet them.
The evening we attended the same jewelry party a short drive from my new house and she said, “I’ll see you there” when I asked her to swing by and see my family beforehand.
When the person I thought of as a lifelong ally referred to me in her aria email as old friend.
I didn’t see the wall she meticulously crafted between us. The rays from her seemingly wise spirit and apparent capacity to love glistened through its cracks and into my sons’ hearts long enough to distract me from the stone. I saw only a valued pal so when she severed the connection, it broke my heart.
Estrangement has convinced me of what her send off suggested; I was worthy of a better friend. She was right.
Then why was it when I was introduced to a woman at a recent networking event who knew her did my stomach still twist in fury?
My lingering disgust does not stem from our lost ties, but for our children’s lost friendship.
These young people deserve more. They deserve the chance to nurture the bond they made as babies, enjoy the experience of aging together, reminisce about the days when they hollered to one another from their second floor windows, test drove the electric powered pink Cadillac on Christmas morning, raced down my driveway on scooters until dusk, shot hoops off the garage, ran through sprinklers, sleighed in the park, sang at each other’s birthday parties, and negotiated with their mothers to play a little longer. Our children went from quasi- sibling to stranger in a blink because two grownups could not take themselves out of the equation.
Eight years is a small period in our adult lives; but it is a large percentage of their childhood. And I can’t help but believe my older son and her two daughters will always feel a loss.
I wonder if she knows her first born asked the babysitter, my former colleague, about my son every week after we moved.
I wonder if when my husband and son spontaneously stopped by her house after the fall out, she knows the same daughter peeked through the bay window, raced to let them inside, gave them huge smile and said, “I thought that was your car.”
Would she care to know my son begs for us to be friends again?
Does she have a good reason why she never responded to my child’s handwritten letter addressed to her requesting a play date?
Could she possibly have ignored my husband’s efforts to send holiday cards accompanied by a request to get the kids together?
Each time I come up empty, my husband shakes his head. “It’s not right.”
The last time our son saw his friends, the younger daughter confessed in the confines of the basement playroom, “We almost forgot about you.”
I suppose that’s what my former neighbor wanted; a clean break up for us mommies and fading memories for her children.
I wish circumstances were different for my son and her daughters’ sake. I wish she could have met me half way. We adults may have closed the door on our relationship, but our children should not have to do the same.
This was our break up, not theirs.