During our lives we meet many people and we develop friendships. Throughout our lives some friendships come and go. No friendship is perfect, and some friendships were never meant to last. Other friendships last for years. Special friendships become engraved in our hearts. Neither miles apart nor years lost can destroy such a special bond. Reuniting with an old friend can rekindle old memories and a bond that can never be broken.
High school was rough for me. The bullying I faced in elementary followed me into high school. It didn’t help that I lived in a small town where everybody knew each other. K through twelfth grade were in the same building just in separate sections of the school. Once you are labeled, that label follows you throughout school. I made friends only to have them turned against me or watch them move away. In high school I stopped talking unless I had no other choice. Along with the bulling I suffered with mental illness, but at the time I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
In tenth grade a new family moved to town, a mother and her three girls. One of the girls, Patsy, was around my age and was in some of my classes. I’m not sure how she got me talking, but she did. Before I knew it, we were talking about everything and anything. Our history teacher called us the Bobbsey Twins. In time we became inseparable. We began to spend the nights at each other’s houses. I even became friends with her sisters.
Patsy, like me, was teased in school. Together we drowned out the bullying with our talking and laughing. Patsy and I told each other everything, yet I kept a secret from her. I couldn’t tell her about the darkness that lingered in my soul. It was a sadness that even I didn’t understand. How could I tell her about my feelings if I didn’t even know what they were? Would she even believe me if I told her?
When I was with Patsy, the darkness within me wasn’t so smothering. There was some light. I never had a friend before that I could spend hours talking to and one that I had so much in common with. Not only did we spend the night at each other’s houses, but we went to the festival of lights in Niagara Falls, we visited each other’s grandparents, we talked for hours on the phone, and watched the Waltons on the television. I never did so much with a friend before.
Some of my teachers commented, “Aimee, I didn’t know you could talk.”
Patsy broke my silence. We could confide in each other about the bullying we both faced. We shared the pain that words caused, and we formed an unbreakable bond. For once I had a friend no one could turn against me. Patsy brought me out of my protective shell and allowed me to be myself. She liked me for the person I was.
By eleventh grade we made friends with a girl a couple grades beneath us who transferred from another school. We all hung out together when we could. I felt lucky to have Patsy, her sisters, and the new girl. In twelfth grade my cousin was killed in a car accident. I tumbled further into darkness down into the hole of depression. By the time I graduated from school, I became suicidal. Patsy moved to a town an hour away and I moved in with my grandparents closer to college.
My friendship with Patsy continued. I drove to her home and spent some of the weekends with her and other weekends she stayed with me at my grandparents’ home. When we didn’t see each other, we talked on the phone or wrote notes. I also continued to be friends with the other girl. The friendship with the other girl became unhealthy, yet I couldn’t let go. I fell to the very bottom of my hole of depression. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t keep food down, I self-injured, and I began to plan my death. The deeper I fell, the worse the abuse I got from my other friend.
What happened with the friend became a burden I silently carried within my soul. I never told Patsy what was happening or how bad I felt. Being a writer, I put my anguish in letters and one of those letters separated Patsy and me. We stopped talking and before I could apologize, she and her family moved away.
That was back in 1994. For years afterwards I wondered where Patsy was and if she thought about me. When I got onto Facebook, I tried to search for her, but I couldn’t remember how to spell her last name. Recently I was going through some things I saved from high school. In a small notebook I found Patsy’s name and last name. I searched Facebook but still couldn’t find her. So, I searched her older sister’s name and “Bingo!” I found her older sister who gave me Patsy’s married name.
I friended Patsy. We gave each other our phone numbers, and a couple days ago we talked on the phone. We talked about our husbands being Steelers fans, about our lives, and so much more. She now lives in Virginia miles away, but we plan to visit each other when things get better with COVID-19. We are reunited and we plan to keep in touch. Our friendship never died. It continued to hold strong even though we lost contact.
Being reunited with Patsy is a blessing. We still have a lot of catching up to do, but now I can openly tell her about my struggles with mental illness and my recovery. Being reunited with my friend gave me a chance to let go of my guilt of losing contact with her. I stand in the light of recovery rebuilding a friendship I thought I lost.