Two weeks ago, my once-dear, but now non-friend Lillian and I were in the same place at the same time, for the first time in an entire year. We were both attending a birthday party for the son of our mutual friend, Leigh. In addition to being a party guest, I had also been asked to be the official party photographer, which I was thankful for. It was a small mercy Leigh gave me, asking me to do that, giving me an excuse for not socializing, giving me a shield of protective armor to hide behind.
Lillian’s dark hair was shaped into the same short, spunky cut that she’d had for a while, but she looked different to me. Maybe she’d lost a little weight? And she was wearing a scarf and stylish ballet flats that seemed so different from what I remembered as her style. She looked good, but acted more subdued and reserved than the bold, loud, laughing Lillian I knew. I could practically see the wall she’d built around herself and, if it hadn’t been for my friendly, loving Cupcake running up to greet her and talk her ear off (because somehow, over a year and half later, my big girl still remembers Lillian and her daughter), I probably wouldn’t have heard her voice at all. She was quiet. Reserved. Guarded. I felt it, and I know my husband and Leigh did too.
When Lillian entered the party room, she gave me a little wave and when she left two hours later, she did the same, but other than that, she ignored me completely. Didn’t even look my way. We both moved about the room, her focused so completely and intentionally on her two little ones and me hiding behind my camera and snapping away. By the way we barely acknowledged one another, never connecting like the identical poles of two magnets, you wouldn’t know that we have a history. You wouldn’t know that she was there for me, one of the few IRL, when I miscarried. You wouldn’t know that I was one of the first to know when she found out she was pregnant with the baby she lost or the one she gave birth to a few months after Skittle. You wouldn’t know that we went on weekend getaways together, that she threw a baby shower for me, that she attended our gender reveal party, and that Cupcake spent the night at her house while I went to the hospital to have Skittle. You’d have no idea because there, at that party, it was like we didn’t know each other at all.
Which is freaking sad, ya’ll.
I felt awkward and nervous and unsure and confused and surprised and insecure and reserved that day. But most of all, I felt sad. I wanted to feel indifferent. Or at the very least, mad. But I just felt mostly sad.
Sad because Lillian was once my go-to girl when it came to grieving my loss. She was my greatest support and my greatest cheerleader in the year or two that followed as I fought to bring Skittle safely into our lives. Having suffered RPL, she knew better than anyone else what I did and did not need from her. And she helped me. She helped me so much.
Sad because, if things had gone differently, it would have been Leigh, Lillian, and I working together to make that party a success…and then standing against the wall, laughing and eating the fattest pieces of cake we could eat while still being socially acceptable.
Sad because it was never more clear that my daughter, precious 5-year-old Cupcake, had lost someone, too. Lillian was in her life from the ages of one to four and then she, and her daughter (whom Cupcake had regular playdates with), were gone. And when Cupcake saw them both that day at the party, her face lit up, and she ran to them, and held hands with little Mini-Lillian, and it was almost as though nothing had changed at all.
Sad because while Cupcake knows and remembers Lillian very well, Skittle does not. My friendship with Lillian started unraveling sometime around Skittle’s first birthday. Skittle doesn’t know her much at all. And Poppy just doesn’t know her. Period.
Sad because, all this time later, I still don’t exactly understand how it all fell apart, or why it had to, or what it was that made Lillian start to hate me so.
Sad because, all this time later, I’m still affected by it. Still mad. Still hurt. Still sad.
And maybe that makes me terribly pathetic. Or maybe it just makes me human. And maybe I’ll write more about all of this as I continue to process. Or maybe I’ll just keep it close to my heart forevermore.
I honestly don’t even know what the point of this post is. Except to express how amazing and incredibly unbelievable it is to me that someone whom is not family and was in my life for a relatively short amount of time (3-4 years) can have this much power over me. Except, she was there during one of my greatest crises. And she does know things about me that most others do not. And I did once see her on a weekly, if not daily, basis — so much more than most anyone else, except for my most immediate family. So I guess that probably explains it.
But still, it’s sad. Sad how quickly things can change. And sad that, once they do, there’s no going back. This can’t be undone. I don’t know what the future holds or if some event or turning point, big or small, will reunite us. I just know that what’s been said and done is permanent. It’s left a lasting mark. If not on the universe, at least on my heart.