To the Friends Who Left When I Became Chronically Ill
They say, on average, we lose half our friends every seven years. If you’re lucky, you may surpass that average and have friends that literally last a lifetime.
Or if you’re like me and aren’t so lucky, life may throw you some unexpected curve-balls people in your life just can’t handle, and you may lose friends at a much more rapid pace than “the average person.”
I got sick when I was 14 and lost every single person in my life that wasn’t blood-related to me.
I’ve lost more friends in my life than I can begin to try and count, and it took me time to fully accept that losing all of those friends was not my fault, and that I didn’t do anything wrong. I simply got sick, and people couldn’t handle how serious and scary my life got, so they left.
I don’t really blame them for leaving either because I’ve deeply struggled with handling my illness, too. I wouldn’t expect people to stick around if even I can’t handle my own illness. It’s a lot. Believe me, I know.
Over the years, I’ve made amends with many who left, but most never gave me a conversation for closure, or even just a goodbye. I’ve thought a lot about what I would say to those people who left without so much as a goodbye, and so I decided to write a letter.
This letter is to no one person in particular, but instead is inspired by my loss of countless friendships and the things I wished I had said to them.
Dear Ex-Best Friend,
We always said forever, and I know we both believed we would beat the odds. I’m genuinely sorry that we didn’t.
Losing you was my first and biggest heartbreak.
I know I shouldn’t apologize for this, but I’m sorry I got sick and that it was too much for our friendship to survive through. I know it’s not my fault that I got sick, but it’s hard not to feel somewhat responsible for this. I truly wish that our friendship didn’t have to be collateral damage of my illness.
I’m sorry I missed out on all the things we said we would do together. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be a part of it all, and most importantly, I still always wanted to be a part of your life.
I’m not sure if you know this, but I need you to know that I didn’t reach out because I was too sick. I was fighting to survive. I really only ever saw or talked to my family or my doctors, and that’s it.
My lack of efforts to try and talk to you and catch up wasn’t personal. I didn’t have anything against you. I was just too sick, and if I did have the energy, I hope you know I would’ve chosen to reach out to you.
Over the years, I have made some new friends, but I haven’t forgotten about you, and I don’t see how I ever could. We were best friends, nothing will ever replace the bond we had and all of the wonderful memories we share.
Although at times I’ve missed you terribly, I realize life has taken us in different directions. I know I’ve changed immensely from my health-crisis detour in life, and I’m sure you’ve changed plenty with time as well. It’s hard to know things will never be as they once were between us, even if we did have a fresh start.
I do have to admit I don’t understand why you never reached out to me though. Was my life really that overwhelming to you? I know it is a lot to handle.
I’m not mad that you had to leave, especially if that’s what was best for your own well-being. But you couldn’t even say goodbye? Was saying goodbye just too hard for you?
In my isolation I was left to wonder if everyone who left just didn’t care about me at all. But I want to believe that isn’t true. I want to believe that you just couldn’t bear to see me suffer, couldn’t cope with the possibly that I may die and couldn’t bear to actually say goodbye.
I’ve wished so much that we could just talk and find closure and peace. Maybe you have questions you want answered, and I know I have countless questions I’ve wished I could ask you.
I’ve held out hope that you would one day return for us to finally have the conversation of closure we both deserve, but you never showed up, and in my small attempts to reach out to you, I felt utterly rejected. It hurt too much to keep trying. And who knows, maybe you feel the same and that’s why you gave up too.
I’ve finally realized I need to let go of “us,” move on with my life and let you move on with yours.
Although it’s time for me to finally fully close the door on our past, just in case this really is the last time we talk, I need you to know a few last things before I go.
I still love you and can’t imagine a day that I won’t.
Your friendship was priceless to me and I truly will cherish it forever.
There are no hard feelings. I really have never been mad at you or solely blamed you for the end of our friendship. I was only sad about losing you, wondering what exactly went wrong and wishing things could be different. Please know I take responsibility for my shortcomings in my half of our relationship.
I hope your life is full of people you can be your true self with, and that they love you unconditionally just as you are.
I hope your new friends support you, uplift you, are there for you and follow through in doing all of the things you plan to do together. I wish so much that I could’ve been that for you, but I hope they make up for that in spades.
I have always and will always wish you all the best in life.
I hope you find a plethora of happiness, passions and love.
I hope your true love is everything we dreamed they’d be and more.
I hope your wedding is beautiful, that your kids are as fantastic as you were as a kid and that your lifetime is full of endless adventures and blessings.
If life ever leads you back to me, don’t be afraid to say hello.
If this is the end, please know I’ll never forget you, and I truly will cherish our memories forever.
Thank you for everything.
And to finally say the word you never could, and the one I’ve been putting off saying for far too long as well, but I think we both need to say it…
Love, your ex-best friend.
Follow this journey on The Life of an Insomniac.
Getty image via william87