Sunday, August 24, 2008

By Diana L. Chapman

I missed my son’s friend, who quit coming over several months ago. I missed seeing his crooked smile and his zany ways.

At first I thought the kid was out of town, but then his disappearance rolled on and on -- all through the summer, past the heart of those lazy July days and still kept swimming through the month of August. Soon, we’ll be entering the sharp winds of September and school will start without a sign from the friend.

Finally, I began lamenting to Ryan about how sad it was and what happened and when did all of this go down and what was “the why of it all?”

“I don’t know,” Ryan grunted, looking bored with the discussion. “I probably did something that bothered him. I don’t know what it was.”

“But doesn’t it bother you?” I queried. “Don’t you want to know what happened?”

“Sure it bugged me for a couple of days,” Ryan revealed of the friend who he constantly hung out with a cadre of other boys. “But I’m over it.”

My surprise must have been etched on my face, because when I lose a friend like this, it rolls over in my mind again and again and I worry until the wee hours of the night.

The worries march across my brain: What did I do to cause this fragmentation? It’s like a puzzle and next to impossible to pick up the proper pieces and drop them into place to determine where and when the problem began, where it ends and where was the middle.

Adults tend to sever relationships, because the truth is this -- it’s easier. It’s easier than having a heart-to-heart discussion where the pain began – because usually these types of splits start with a shard of pain that was thrust into a heart, and left untreated, continue to swell and fester.

It’s a pattern I’ve seen in many adults – men and women – and that includes me.

My 14-year-old could tell I was bothered by abrupt break off. He looked at me, seriousness brushed across his face and gave me this poignant piece of advice: “You know, Mom, just because he dropped the friendship, doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. You understand that, right?”

I was taken off guard and needed a few seconds to step back and ponder those words. It was not only TRUE; it made me realize that Ryan was acting like more of an adult than most adults.

It was a revelation for me to realize that not all lost friends are truly lost. They are probably there at a time for a good reason – and when they moved on – they moved on because that door has closed. Of course, another will open as they always seem to do.

As we lug ourselves out to send our children back to school, still drunk from the warmth of honey-sweet summer days, I made myself a bet.

Sometime, Ryan and his friend will meet and become friends all over again, all hurts forgotten.

Because one other thing kids can be much better at than adults is offering up the buds of forgiveness.