One Sweet Day...

Keith's post today inspired me as to what to say in my first real post in quite some time.

The story he tells reminded me of something that happened about a year and a half ago.

One of my friends, we'll call her Rachel, wanted to go to Atlanta for her birthday. She wanted it to be me, her and a third friend who we'll call Jenna. The three of us were friends in highschool, Rachel and Jenna played on the basketball team together. Rachel informally put me in charge of working out the individual logistics (making sure everyone knew where to be and when) while she found the hotel she wanted to stay in. We all agreed to split the cost of the trip 3 ways. This included a rental car, gas and the hotel. About 3 weeks before the trip, I called Jenna to try to confirm some things with her (primarily that she was still going). She was sorta all over the place. She told me that the week before our trip was her Spring Break and she was going to Panama City. She wasn't sure she'd have money for our trip. I told her that was fine, but to let me know as soon as possible whether or not she went to Panama.

The next weekend, I called her and asked if she'd gone to Panama. She said she hadn't and that she would go with us to Atlanta the following weekend. The morning of the trip, Rachel called to say that the rental car company needed her to produce utility bills in order to use her debit card for a rental. She asked if I'd be ok renting the car, I agreed. That afternoon, when we picked Jenna up at her mom's home (I drove down from my college and Jenna drove down from hers, to our hometown where Rachel still lived) Rachel told her how much money she owed each of us. Jenna told us that she had not gone to Panama City for Spring Break, but had actually gone to Destin, FL. One of her relatives had promised her some money for the Spring Break trip, but hadn't come through. She was sure, however, on this Friday afternoon, that he would put the money in when she called. As we drove the 2 hours to Atlanta, Jenna made repeated calls to this family member asking for the money. When we got to the city, Jenna didn't have much money and so Rachel ended up buying at least one meal for her, all the while, Jenna promised she'd get us some money.

The next day, one of Rachel's friends called and said she wanted to come down but had no way. I agreed to drive back up to pick up this friend. Jenna asked if we would drop her off at home so she could leave some of her clothes for her mom to wash before she got back and to get some money from her mom to pay us back. An hour after we had been back and just as I was headed from one side of the city to the other to pick up Jenna, she called me to tell me her mom was not letting her go back with us because she (her mom) would not be lending Jenna any money and Jenna couldn't pay us back.

The problem was, however, she had spent at least one night in a nice hotel that Rachel had paid for, and she had ridden down and back in a car I rented and on gas I paid for. There was no getting out of it by staying at home, now. She should have stayed at home before. Rachel quickly got on the phone and demanded her money. "I want my money when I get back, do you understand?" Rachel asked. Jenna said she'd have it for us when we returned; we had to bring her the clothes she left in the hotel.

The morning we left, I text Jenna that we would be back in 2 hours and she should be at home to get her stuff. She said she would. When we pulled up to her house almost 3.5 hours later, there was no one home and there had been no word from Jenna that she wouldn't be there. We left her stuff on the front porch (though Rachel was an advocate for keeping it as collateral) and left.

16 months later, I've forgiven Jenna though we've not ever spoken about the situation. I was horridly disappointed in her response -- not returning phone calls, continuing to promise the money but never sending it, etc... -- but I learned my lesson. Rachel, on the other hand, hasn't spoken to her since the last time she asked for her money, which was 15 months ago. This is a long-time friendship that is, at least for now, dead over money. Life is too short for all that.

2 weeks ago yesterday, my ex-boyfriend, the one I've talked about ad nauseum here, killed himself. I'd long known he was depressed, but actually thought that in the time we'd been a part, he'd found a healthy relationship and was doing better. He never made me think anything different and so I was surprised and saddened to hear of his death. I had a friend commit suicide in high school. The ex was there for that, as well. He and I had many conversations about suicide and we didn't agree on it. He saw it as a gift, I saw it as selfish. Like I said, he battled depression for a long time. It was so hard to watch.

There are countless things I planned to say to him in the next few weeks. Things I wanted him to know but wasn't sure he was ready to hear. I was ready for us to try a friendship again. I was ready for us to put the past behind us and move towards whatever sort of future we had. I had literally just forgiven him, truly forgiven him, for all the stuff he did to me when his mom called me to tell me he was gone.

Life is too short to forget how short it is. I truly thought I was doing him a favor by letting him enjoy his relationship without the added confusion of us trying to be friends again, though he had told me I was wrong about that, before. We all know we shouldn't think we have forever with someone, because the truth is that we don't, but that is a hard lesson to put into practice. We let so much other stuff get in the way.

Like Keith said he learned in his experience, as I learned when my friend committed suicide 5 years ago, as I've been reminded in the death of someone I loved more than even I seemed to realize, life is too short to think you have forever. The breakup of a long-time friendship over a couple hundred dollars sounds reasonable until you put it into perspective. Money can be repaid, life and time can not be recovered. I hope that Rachel and Jenna resolve their differences, but I'm more focused on being sure that I don't let life or time slip through my fingers over things beyond my control and things that, in the big picture, just don't matter...

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