“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not despairing. Persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Cor. 4:8-9
“Friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest… It’s about who came, and never left your side.”
Time means nothing when it comes to friendship. You can know someone for 20+ years and realize too late that you meant nothing to them.
I’ve never been the kind of person that asks for anything from friends. I just don’t. That being said, when you’re friends with someone you expect that when things are at their worst, they are going to be there for you. That seems a BASIC of friendship to me, not an ‘extra’, especially from ‘friends’ you’ve known half your life.
When my Dad was diagnosed with terminal Esophageal Cancer in January 2008, I called my oldest friend and left a message for him to call me back. I told him my Dad had been diagnosed with cancer and that I really needed to talk to him about it. He never called. I called again a couple of weeks later, left another message, and still no call, from him or his wife. I never heard from him.
My Dad was given 6-8 months life expectancy, but 3 months after diagnosis he was gone. Messages went out from a mutual friend to ALL my friends and, not only did my oldest friend not show up to the visitation or the funeral, but I never heard from him at all. No phone call. No card. No email. Nothing. I had also been close to his brother and his wife, as I watched their children many times and I heard nothing from them either. There were other friends I didn’t hear from as well.
It’s interesting because I had always been there for my friends, especially my oldest friend. When he was diagnosed with cancer, went through chemotherapy, then went into remission, I was there. When his mom, whom I was really close to, died, I was there. When he found love and got married, I was there. It was that way for ALL of the friends who weren’t there for me when I needed them the most. My Dad meant EVERYTHING to me. To lose him was devastating. Realizing that none of my oldest friends loved me (or my Dad) enough to be there for me this ONE time, was heart-breaking.
I saw him 2 months after my Dad passed at a wedding for a mutual friend. I almost didn’t go to the wedding because I knew he’d be there and it was so soon after Dad had died, I didn’t know how I’d deal with seeing him. I didn’t talk to him or even look at him. I couldn’t. He came up to me during the reception and asked how I was, and that’s it. I certainly wasn’t going to tell him how I REALLY was. I wasn’t going to make a scene or fall apart. So, I put on a smile, said “Fine”, and that was that. He didn’t say he was sorry for not calling. He didn’t say he was sorry for not being there for me. He didn’t say sorry for anything. He had the opportunity to potentially save a friendship, but I realized there was no friendship to save and he never really was my friend. It’s still heart-numbing to me how you can know someone so long, believe they’ll be there for you when it really matters, then they’re not and they have no consciousness about the hurt they cause and they don’t care. That’s about as far from friendship as you can get without being an enemy.
In a way, I guess it’s partly my fault. I should’ve seen the signs earlier…and they were there once I started to look back. I was dumb enough to believe that those friends ‘loved’ me because they kept saying it. But, to them, they were just words…meaningless words with no action behind them. Do I regret all those years? No. Even though I really wasted my time on people who were users, it led to a valuable lesson about being careful who you trust your heart to. Friends are always going to let you down, they aren’t perfect. But, when your friends aren’t there when you’re hurting the most…that’s the true test. Unfortunately, a lot of them failed that one, at least with me. I have no doubt that to some of their other friends they are the ‘best’. I just didn’t pass their criteria.
I’m thankful that God brought other friends in my life to help me get through such a hard time. If I hadn’t had them to pick up the pieces where my other ‘friends’ didn’t, I really don’t know where I’d be right now. 20+ years of friendships mean nothing if you can’t deliver. 20+ years doesn’t make you a great friend. Anyone can be around for 20 years. You actually have to have a heart and soul to be a friend. Some people missed that line, I guess.