By: Kathleen Kempert
“I don’t feel like I fit into your life anymore,” I type into the phone. I look at the words before I hit send, my index finger hovering, daring me to press it. I watch the words turn blue doubting myself as I push the regret to the side. It had to be done.
When I moved across the country we talked weekly, FaceTiming one another, watching our kids grow up without feeling like we were missing huge pieces of their lives. You saw my son crawl for the first time and I felt like I was sitting in front of you when you told me you were naming your younger daughter after me. When I made that call telling you I was moving home, the excitement in our voices and the tears of happiness were unmatched. I would be back and within a 40 minute drive. It would be like old times.
Except it wasn’t and it still isn’t. While you ended up moving closer last year, only 27 minutes door-to-door, I’ve only been invited over a few times, once feeling somewhat forced. You love your new home and neighbors. At the barbeque this past summer, you asked me to take a picture of the four of you. “Say cheese,” I said, feeling like an outsider as I watched you all laugh and smile like old friends. You took your phone back with a thanks but never asked someone to get a picture of the two of us.
Your oldest asked me if I would come to her winter dance recital. Of course I told her yes, happy to see her and her sister on stage and spend an afternoon with you. The day of, I arrived with my daughter and two bouquets of flowers and was greeted with a quick “hi” before the show started. I wasn’t expecting to sit behind you in the auditorium while one of your dance mom friends sat next to you and your husband, especially since I hadn’t seen you in about six weeks.
The show ended and we all talked for a few minutes before I took my daughter’s hand and walked to the car to head home, trying to hold back the tears in my eyes. My daughter noticed my face.
“What’s wrong, Mommy?” she asked me.
“Nothing, sweetie,” I told her, forcing a smile on my face. Thankfully, there were more interesting things to see outside the window and she was content with my answer.
At home, my husband asked me about the show. He knew how I had been feeling. I told him the girls were great. I knew this wasn’t what he meant, but thankfully he didn’t press me. I went upstairs and sat on my bed. I thought of the last year. The phone calls more sporadic, the days together even fewer. I pulled out my phone and looked at our recent text exchange. You gave me the link to order Girl Scout cookies which I happily did. I asked if you wanted to see our favorite singer this summer, but you said you couldn’t.
A tear landed on my phone. I didn’t even realize I was crying. We’ve known each other since we were 16. We chose the same out of state college, celebrated our weddings, and were the first person outside of our families we told when we were pregnant. How did we get here?
“I don’t feel like I fit into your life anymore,” I type and send. I look at the words, knots in my stomach as I watch for the ellipses appear. I know this is not an appropriate text conversation, but I know I’ll start crying again and I’m not ready to have you hear or see me like that yet.
The ellipses don’t appear. I thought I would feel relief at the extra time to get my thoughts together, but instead I feel even more disconnected from you. I miss my friend. I miss hanging out together and with our families. I miss talking about everything and nothing at all.
The read receipt appears, but there is still no response. Are you wondering what to say? Do you feel the same? Are we really growing apart? Can this be fixed? I watch for the ellipses, but after several minutes there is still nothing. I sigh, my shoulders slump as I feel even smaller than I have been. I press the button on my phone, closing my text message app. I put the phone on my dresser as I walk back downstairs feeling more dejected than ever.