My girlfriend got into a minor car accident this morning. She was fine and actually felt encouraged that it was better to just stay home, which is what she woke up thinking she wanted to do anyway. But the feeling of loyalty and concern I felt for her before finding out it was pretty minor gave me a PTSD response…
Almost 10 years ago I was in a head-on car accident with my Before Husband. He was relatively unscathed, as was I, except for a decent burn on my forearm from the airbag. I was taken to the hospital from the scene so they could check me out because I was complaining of neck pain, too. I had to be in a little room all by myself while my Before Husband dealt with insurance and the police. I wondered if anyone knew what room I was in. I wondered if any of these nurses had checked to see if my Before Husband was finished in case he might want to come be with me. I wondered if our friends were there.
One nurse came in and gently cleaned my burn. “What’s the red?” I asked.
“Those are capillaries.”
“I don’t think they are, though. That doesn’t look like it’s part of my body.”
“Oh, you know what? You’re right,” the nurse said. “As I look closer I think those are threads from the airbag. I’ll need to scrub those out.”
I was sorry I asked.
If you’ve ever had a burn. You know it hurts. If you’ve ever had anybody SCRUB a burn, you know that’s just not necessary and ridiculously cruel without numbing medication or hard opiates.
It hurts. So much.
Luckily it was a small burn and she only scrubbed for about 45 seconds. She gently wrapped it and after getting a clear neck and spine, I was free to go. I stood up and began walking down a long hallway. When I turned the corner of another long hallway, she was standing there. She stood firmly, feet planted, arms crossed, angry that she couldn’t cross the invisible line the hospital had drawn in front of her. My best friend. She was waiting for me.
Her concern was overwhelming, her loyalty palpable. In that moment, I felt so covered. My person is here. Yes, I had a husband then who was also my person, but she was my sister. And she was here. She had me.
It’s been almost three and a half years since we’ve been friends. Divorce does funny things.
I’ve reached out to her a few times, and the most recent time seemed like it did the trick. It seemed like we were going to be friends again. We were talking like we used to, making old jokes, listening to each other. We agreed we would start over and take it slow and talk through our grievances because it was worth the time to do that. I left the ball in her court to call be next since she was far less flexible with her time than I am. “Just call me next week sometime when you’re ready. I’m always around!” I texted her a few times after that phone call. It felt so good to know we were back on track.
That was the last time I heard from her.
A few weeks ago I learned that she’s due to have a baby in a few months. I found out from a third party – my Before Husband’s new wife. I wasn’t really hurt by it at the time because I’d already written the friendship off (again). But today, when my friend was in the car accident and I felt compelled to go stand at that invisible line in the hospital waiting for her…I realized that I might never truly stop grieving that old friendship. We always talked about having our babies together. And when I had Abe, she told me how much she’d need me when she had her first. She was my person. She stood on the line for me.
And ultimately, the loss of our friendship burned me worse than that car accident did.
It hurt. So much.
Relationships are such weird things. Have you ever felt that longing for an ex like, “I would do anything to have them back but now that they’ve shown me their true colors I don’t really want them back but I’d still take them back in a heartbeat!!” Friendships can be the same way. Maybe even worse. And just like with an ex, I kick myself when I start thinking of our old friendship again and wishing I had it back. Almost like I’m brain-cheating on the girlfriends I have now.
God has seriously blessed me with 6 or 7 women who would stand on that line for me today. Nah. They would jump the line and fight to get into the room and hold my other hand while a nurse scraped and scrubbed my burns. I literally praise God for them daily. The landscape of my life would be one big tree (or Bear, if you want to be more literal) and a few little saplings without them. But they don’t replace the friendship I lost. No one can. Not even 6 or 7 can.
I just can’t believe I’m still grieving it even after all this time. And how much it still burns.