If you’ve never heard the old (relatively speaking) song “How to Save a Life” by The Fray, go ahead and listen.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to grow up, about how friends go in and out as people change. Is it okay to drift away from people who have known us since way back when? Is it okay to find people who understand us better than those friends ever could? I tell myself, “Of course that’s okay. That’s how we live. That’s how we grow.”
But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I trace my life back through the friends I’ve had and friends I have, friends who were once mere acquaintances, and acquaintances who I once called friends. I used to make friends on my own, but recently I’ve come to rely much more on other people, and the friends that they bring into my circles. My friendship circles are smaller, but also larger; diverse, but also eerily similar. I wonder how that happens.
In some senses, I know when it’s time to let someone go and I know when it’s time to let someone in. (Admittedly, however, my favorite people are the ones with whom I’ve grown closer naturally; those are the friendships that leave us laughing about how we possibly got here.) What is hard for me, however, is watching friends drift away. Sometimes, it’s a mutual drift in which all parties recognize a natural parting of ways, remain in touch, and catch up on occasion. Other times, it’s a one-sided drift in which one party holds on frantically, afraid of what’s going to happen if he or she lets go.
A little over a year ago, a very dear friend and I stopped speaking. I’m not sure when it happened, how, or why, but I do know that I tried to pull her back. And I do know that she resisted. I was angry for a while, then sad. I was disappointed, I was hurt. I’m still sad because I loved her like a sister, but I’m not angry. People grow, people change, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. If she ever needs anything, I’m here for her. In a crisis, I’m sure she’d be there for me. But rather than dwell on that, I’ve put my energies into new groups, new friendships. People grow, people change…. Right?
Nevertheless, it’s hard to say goodbye to someone who knew me way back when.
“Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness. And I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life.” – “How to Save a Life”, The Fray