She Wasn’t My Friend

I parked my truck as always today. In the same spot. At the same time. Grabbed my same racquet and my same court shoes. I walked up the same short path and turned the same corner. I did the same things I do every Tuesday and Thursday. 

But nothing felt the same.

I stepped on the court with the same people and did the same drills. We played the same game. 

But nothing felt the same.

And unexpectedly – but at the same time somehow not surprisingly – the tears came.

Why they came, there with these women, was another matter.

Because the fact is, she wasn’t my friend. 

There is a community filled with people who were her friends. Her true friends. Who knew her hopes and dreams, who knew her family, who laughed with her and shared dinners out on patios with her, and holidays and vacations together with her. Who called her on the phone and shared their joys and their challenges with her.

I wasn’t one of them. 

She wasn’t my friend. 

Over the 49 years of my life, and particularly during the years I spent in the world of cancer, I saw so many people liberally use the word ‘friend’. I saw it time and time again over these years. An assumption and an insertion. I have always been so conscious of it. Especially during those times of critical illness or tragedy. Friendship is not a noun that can be plopped into any sentence just to make us feel closer to someone, or a part of something.  Friendship is something we mutually experience and share with someone over the course of our life, or parts of our lives. 

She wasn’t my friend. 

But as the tears came I realized that it matters not. She might not have been my friend, but she was someone else to me .. and that doesn’t make how she touched my life any less valuable.

She came into my own personal life not even a year ago, at a time when I needed something more. When I was actively looking for something more. A new place. Another place. A place that didn’t revolve around everything my life had always revolved around for the last 21 years (as much as I loved every minute of it). An unexpected place. A place of my own. A place where I found so much laughter. A place where I could make mistakes. A place where I could grow. A place where I am enveloped by women 20 years younger than me, and 20 years older than me. A place I didn’t have to do all the reaching. A place that was easy. A place where I belonged. If only for a few hours a week. And not only did she help me find it, she actively created an environment for it to grow.

So no. She wasn’t my friend. 

But it matters not. 

Because she made such an unanticipated difference in my life, and I will forever be eternally grateful for that … and for her.

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