Years ago, when I was in high school, a friend’s older sister was falling out of friendship with her best friend. They had been friends since preschool, and my friend’s sister was devastated. I so very vividly remember my friend’s mom saying, “even if you can’t be friends anymore, you can still love her from afar.”
Fifteen years later (GAH!) and that has always really stuck with me. And unfortunately, I have experienced first hand what it is like to love someone from afar when friendship is no longer viable — for whatever the reason.
Those reasons, however, have never had to do with disagreement over life issues, politics, or religion. I have prided myself is being able to agree to disagree. I come from a really argumentative family (don’t even try to deny it). And for that reason, I feel like I have been trained well to have the argument and then pretend like it didn’t happen — or at least joke about it the next day.
Recently, though, I’m falling short. I find myself becoming more impatient about pressing issues and unable to just agree to disagree. The happenings of 2020 and beyond feel bigger. I can no longer just move on or joke about it the next day. We keep talking about “back to normal” but it is feeling more and more each day like we will never be able to go back to February 2020. And that is a whole loss in and of itself.
For me, it’s like smoking. We all are well aware of the risks of smoking. And it is your choice to smoke. You are making the conscious decision to do so knowing the risks involved. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke. Like absolutely hate it. And I don’t want to be around it. I do not want to smell it. I do not want my kids to smell it. And I do not want anything to do with second hand smoke. I know the risks and I am making the choice to NOT take those on. And your choice to smoke affects me. If I am around you it affects me and if something happens to you like we know it will, I will lose you and that affects me. Damnit. So for all of these reasons — I cannot be around you when you smoke or anytime shortly thereafter.
But I can still love you. I just have to love you from afar.
My kids are currently 5 and 2. I cannot protect them from everything. I know that. But I feel so vulnerable right now — more than ever. And I already have a baby with his name on a tombstone. I cannot risk anything more than necessary.
So, until they can be fully protected, I cannot have coffee (unless we can do it outside and it won’t be awkward?). I cannot invite you into my home. And I cannot come to yours. I want to say I’m sorry. But I’m not sorry for protecting my family fiercely. I’m not sorry for trusting the sources that I do.
But, my dear precious friend, I will love you from afar. We won’t be able to go back to how things were. But can I be so bold to beg you will love me from afar, too? So, God willing, when this is all behind us, we can start anew?