It wrecked me when Willow died 4 months ago. In the midst of my grief, I realized that she was my closest friend and her passing did more than wound my heart. It also forced me to confront some issues related to friendship that I had been avoiding. In this context, by friendship I mean both the general concept as well as the specific relationships I used to have with a few people.
Before Simon was born (so think 2017), I began wrestling with issues related to friendship. April had an ectopic pregnancy that was pretty scary and, while I was picking up some things to take back to her at the hospital, I realized that I didn’t know who to call. There was no one in Springfield who I felt close enough to.
After that, I redoubled my efforts to make friends. I started going to a church small group. I joined a tabletop gaming group. I invited people over to our house to hang out. I made concerted efforts to become friends with 5 different people and couples.
None of it really took. I talked with my counselor about it and how I decided to give up trying to make friends because it hurt too much when they didn’t reciprocate. There was no real dislike expressed towards me in any of these attempts, it’s just that people have full lives and social circles and there wasn’t room for me, or we didn’t click, or whatever.
The message I felt though, which I recognize now was a lie, was that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t worth being friends with. That I was bad.
That was hard and disappointing, but I could ignore it and move on because I had a dog. Until I didn’t.
First, our dog unplugged my alarm. I usually wake up between 6 and 6:30, but instead April woke me at 6:50.
Then, I immediately took the dog for a walk… and discovered that a cat had been hit by a car last night and was lying at the end of the driveway. I couldn’t be certain, but I thought it was our neighbour’s cat, Mellow, which was heartbreaking. I grew up in the country, and if one of our outside animals was hit by a car, a neighbour always brought it home in a trashbag with condolences, so I figured I ought to do the same. After the walk, I got the cat and knocked on the neighbour’s door.
Then I showered, dressed, grabbed some breakfast, and got to work a few minutes late after dropping April off at OTC. I tried to call people to let them know I would be late, but my phone kept dropping the connection, potentially due to the storm we’ve got in the area right now.
It turns out that it wasn’t Mellow. I’m glad–that makes it better, somehow. But it was still a very sad thing, and I want to go home and sit on the couch with our cats and dog.
I graduated from Hillcrest High School in the spring of 2003 with a ton of honours, trophies from speech and debate, a great ACT score, a full-ride scholarship to Missouri State, and a lot of excitement about moving out of my mom’s house in the near future.
And then I discovered that I didn’t know how to study, I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did about everything, and in retrospect, I certainly didn’t know how hard it would be to finish. I lost my scholarship, dropped out for a while, and when I came back, it was with the sole goal of finishing up and getting that piece of paper.