“There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.” – Josh Billings
I was thirteen years old when my best friend effectively traded our friendship in for popularity. Like every betrayal it started out slow. Her mother had cancer. A child simply can’t understand that some things just happen. They try to explain it but fail. She grew mad at the world for her mother’s pain and the tearing apart of her family. In middle school she was desperate for attention. Her father was constantly working to pay for medical bills and her mom was always resting. My family tried to fill that hole but nothing can replace familial love. Middle school would be the end of our bond.
Eleven is such a different age from ten, the second decade of your life is about finding yourself. You explore the freedom you didn’t have preciously. You’re expected to be more self-reliant. For a girl in turmoil, this is hazardous. Cliques are formed. Hierarchies are established. Romances start to ignite. She was a pretty Irish girl whom blossomed early. She was doomed. And there was nothing I could do.
Our birthdays showed the disappearing of our bond the best. For my eleventh birthday, she was an hour late. She spent the night at someone’s house and didn’t bother to ask her father to pick her up early. It was not the fact that she had other friends that bother me, but that I invited her to my party weeks beforehand and she forgot. I, her best friend for most of our lives, wasn’t important enough to be remembered. I was sad. I was angry. But I cared for her. So I forgave her.
Twelfth. She was there for a half hour, and brought a friend. Someone I didn’t know. It was a beach party and I was at the shore with the rest of my guests. When I saw her walking on the sand, I was excited because I thought she wasn’t coming. When I saw that she wasn’t in a swimsuit and with a girl whom I didn’t know, my heart enfolded upon itself. The girl spent the night at her house and my best friend was going to spend my birthday at this other girl’s house. I think not coming at all would have hurt less. At least then I could have made up an excuse instead of being confronted with the reality. I knew she was slipping away from me but I wanted to hang onto her for a little bit longer. So I smiled and covered my disappointment.
Her thirteenth birthday made me cry. She didn’t even bother to invite me. I waited weeks for the invitation to come in the mail. It never did. I thought she was going to tell me in person. I waited. Her birthday came and went without a word. I asked her about it and she gave a lame excuse. It was at a water park and since my parents are big on modesty I would wear a t-shirt over my swimsuit. She said that the shirt would get caught on the slides the park had. I looked it up. No such thing existed. She didn’t want me there. I cried. I couldn’t face her, so I wrote her a letter and stuck in the bag with her birthday present. I asked her about it a week later. She said “What letter?” I cried some more. I then came to a decision. My thirteenth birthday would decide the future of our friendship.
Months of worry awaited me. She grew ever distant. I barely saw her and she lived down the street. The day came. I invited her to my sleepover. She came but I felt that she didn’t want to. She mostly hung out with some girls from our school. I don’t remember having a conversation with her. She avoided me. When I said goodbye to her in the morning, I gave up. She got held back a year. I knew since I would be going on to high school and she would still be in middle school, that our friendship would end.
I had a class with her older sister whom I was still friendly with. I would occasionally ask about her sister. She wasn’t doing well. She was dating a much older guy and might be held back another year. Then I heard that she might drop out. This went on for a year. After my freshman year, my family was moving away. The older sister came to say goodbye to my family. My former best friend was in the background. I think she felt guilty, but she never said she was sorry. I gave her a hug anyway. I wanted her to know that I forgave her for everything she put me through. Our second decade is about finding ourselves and sometimes that means changing. People come and go in our lives. We have to let them go and move on. In order to pass that stage of life we have to forgive what happened. It’s been over five years since I saw my former best friend. I don’t know what happened to her.