The good news is that M— and I still are friends. Maybe better friends than before because we cared enough about each other to discuss the problem and talk it out. In person.
Here’s what happened. I wanted to forewarn M— that Metamorphosis was going to be published on my blog, so I emailed her that I was writing a piece that was sensitive in nature and involved her. I asked if she would read it and give me feedback. M— said she would, so I emailed Metamorphosis to her after Thanksgiving, and scheduled it to post on 18 December. I was sure I would hear from her before that so if I wanted to edit the essay, I’d have time before it posted.
I didn’t hear from M— before I left for Michigan in December, and I totally forgot about the automatic posting until I was sitting in the airport on 18 December and saw that Metamorphosis had posted. I was disappointed that M – hadn’t responded, but since she hadn’t, I was perfectly okay with my essay posting. I saw it as just one more indication that our friendship was in trouble.
“The good news is that M— and I still are friends.”
Here’s what I didn’t know: M— never received the copy of Metamorphosis I sent her, so, of course, she couldn’t respond. While I was forming opinions about why she hadn’t responded, M— was wondering why I hadn’t sent her the blog post. But, I didn’t check to see that she’d received the essay, and she didn’t check to see why she hadn’t. I don’t think Mercury was retrograde, but our communication was garbled nonetheless.
When I arrived in Michigan and called M—, the first thing she said was, “I read your blog. Was that supposed to be me? Were you talking about me?” It was clear she was upset.
I went to her house so we could talk without interruption. M—explained that she perceived Anne-Maré’s difficulty at the funeral as bereavement over her friend and mentor’s death rather than as physical distress. And M—was dealing with some family issues of her own at the time, something that did not cross my mind. Even so, the bottom line was that she did not feel close enough to either of us to intervene. Not calling or contacting Anne-Maré, I understood, and though l was hurt that M— didn’t feel comfortable enough in our relationship to make contact, I had to accept it.
I am sorry that I responded so viscerally and so quickly, but I’m protective of my sisters. That “everyone was talking about” Anne-Maré’s “agony” and difficulty standing was upsetting and is something I wish someone had alerted me to. But that’s water under the bridge. Obviously Anne-Maré didn’t tell Patricia (our other sister) and me that she was struggling to stand and walk. That’s our family’s problem, not M—’s, and now, I own it.
In over sixty years of the ebb and flow of friendship, this is the only time feathers were ruffled, and anger flared. We are not as close as we once were, but I aim to try to remedy that by being in better, more frequent contact. M—stopped me in my tracks when she told me I hadn’t considered her point of view – only my own, and that I was pretty quick to declare the friendship over. She was right, and I am chastened.
Because of our willingness to confront each other, M—and I have weathered this crisis in our relationship; and I am happy to say that the metamorphosis continues in the chrysalis of our friendship.
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