Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Steve

(originally published on Friday, May 6, 2011)

 I lost a friend a year ago.
His name was Steve.  We were high school acquaintances.  Thanks to Facebook we became good buddies.  We chatted online or on the phone almost every day.  Have you ever had a new friend who you instantly connected with?  That was how it was with Steve.  I felt like I had gained another brother, and we joked about how we were twins separated at birth and we had just figured it out.  We liked so many of the same things and had a lot of the same beliefs and values.  We would think the same thing at the same time and began finishing each other's sentences.
About the beginning of May last year, I began to avoid Steve.  I am ashamed to admit it now, but I did.  I was busy with school and with my own life, and frankly, I was growing weary of Steve's daily dose of drama.  I kept urging him to cut the drama from his life, but it wasn't happening.  You know how it is when a friend makes the same mistake over and over, and you know he is headed for disaster, and you try to help, but it doesn't work?  That's what was going on.  And I was tired and needed a little time-out.
A few days before he died, I did get a chance to chat with him again.  He was giving me crap about how I hadn't been around, so I gave it right back to him.  I knew he had been having personal problems, so I made the comment "Oh, I'm just checking in with you to make sure no one has offed you yet."  He gave a half-hearted laugh.  This off-the-cuff comment would come back to haunt me.
Monday, May 10 was like any other day at school and home.  That evening, I turned on my laptop and went to Facebook.  Weird--I had several messages in my inbox.  I opened one up, and it gave me the news.  Steve Bryie had passed away over the weekend.  I went numb and cold, and kept repeating Oh my God, Oh my God.  I ran to Byron and told him the news.  I cried.  I called a couple of our mutual friends.  None of us could believe it.  It was just so strange.  He was here, he was fine, and now he was gone.  Gone.  I called his phone just hoping it was a mistake and got his voice mail.  I checked to see if he was online--not anymore.  I was absolutely in denial.
Fortunately, I was able to go home for his funeral.  It helped me get past the denial.  I met his mom, a very lovely woman, his sweet sister, and his beautiful daughters.  I found out he had died from a blow to the head when he fell down the stairs at his house.
A year later, I still think about him.  I think what bothers me the most are the questions I still have about his death.  Was he alone that night at home when he fell down the stairs?  Was it purely an accident?  Did he suffer before he died?  He had a confrontation with a family member of his married girlfriend about a week earlier.  Did that have anything to do with his death?
I know answers to my questions won't bring him back.  I know that.  And I know I'm not the only one who still misses him.  I can't imagine the agony his mom lives with and his poor daughters who are growing up without their dad.  It's so sad.  But I know what Steve would say to me.  He would say, "Hey Dumbass, stop whining.  You'll see me again one day, and we'll have those beers together then."  So until then, RIP my friend, RIP.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Best Friends for Life, Part 2 ("Hard to Say I'm Sorry")

My blog readers know that back in July I wrote an entry about my relationship with my best girlfriend.  At that time, I was confident we would be best friends forever.  Now, I am not so sure.  What happened?  I'm quite sure you are wondering.  Well, never fear, I will certainly tell you!

It started on that July day when she called to ask my advice about a certain man.  At the time, I didn't think too much about it.  I just figured it was a temporary insanity type of thing.  You see, this man she had met while she was in vacation in another country.  And he wasn't a fellow tourist--he actually resided there.  So, I assumed my BF, who is full of wisdom, intelligence, and common sense, would realize that this was a no-win situation.  Unfortunately, she did not and persisted in her fantasy.

Being the good best friend that I am, I sent her an e-mail that expressed my concern about her getting involved in a relationship with a man that she barely knew that lived in another country.  Let me just say here that I had the BEST INTENTIONS in writing this e-mail.  I love my best friend.  I am very loyal to my friends and protective of people that I love.  The thought of her being used or getting hurt was not something I wanted to risk.  So, I expressed my concerns to her. 

She responded to me in a way that was very hurtful.  Basically, her message to me was that I do not have good judgment in relationships.  I mean, look at all the past experiences I have had where I have been stupid, naive, or just plain crazy.  It was a very hurtful e-mail to receive and brought up a lot of old wounds.  The e-mail felt mean-spirited.

I didn't respond right away.  My first reaction was to lash out in anger and hurt, but I resisted.  Then, I wanted to be sarcastic and mean, but I resisted that impulse as well.  Finally, I decided to be truthful and open about how I felt, so I sent a reply that did just that.

I soon got a reply e-mail.  I was nervous to open it, but then I thought, "Surely she will realize I was being a loving, caring friend when I wrote to her, and she was not that way in return, so she will apologize."  Wrong!  Here is what I got in return:  Dear Kim, I'm sorry if referencing your past experiences caused you distress.  My intent was only to understand why you would think it necessary to tell me how to manage my own relationships instead of being supportive and just encouraging me to consider the pros and cons.  I think if you are going to tell others what to do with their relationships, you should expect the conversation to sometimes go both ways.  


I didn't respond, and at this time I'm not planning on responding.  Obviously she doesn't get that I wrote to her out of love and concern.  She also doesn't get that her reply message to me was very hurtful, and she doesn't think she did anything wrong.

At this point, I'm wondering if continuing in this relationship is worth it.  I hate to drop a friend after 34 years.  But is it worth it to turn the other cheek and go on?  Would this be a case of forgiving someone, or would it be a case of allowing someone to trample my feelings?  I just don't know.  Readers (and most of you are my friends as well), what should I do?  What would you do?  And why is it so hard for people to say three simple words:  I am sorry.