I forgot to say goodbye.
When you left that morning,
my breath damp with fatigue
with the audacity of nightmare
the immediacy of distress
I did not think to call you by name,
to let your usual response linger
in the ether between us.
How many people do you know who
begin their day with the end in mind?
©Assumpta Ozua 2016
I have been going to friends’ weddings for the past 10 years. That’s one third of my life.
The first ceremony I attended unaccompanied by my parents, that wasn’t for a family member was before I had even graduated from University. Since then I have travelled across the UK, Europe, Asia, America (and the Caribbean) to bear witness to the formal beginning of a new chapter in my friends’ love stories.
It’s been beautiful.
Of the numerous weddings I have attended in the past 10 years (I genuinely have no clue how many I’ve been to if I include family weddings and being someone’s +1), in a relatively short period of time, I was a bridesmaid seven times. Yes, seven. Now there are two ways of looking at this;
- I am either fairly well liked and appreciated by many women
- I’m the sap who will go above and beyond in the run up to the wedding and on the actual day
Frankly, I think it may be a combination of the two to varying degrees so the last person who asked, I politely declined. You see, it dawned on me that a few of the closest women to me are yet to get engaged and I would very much like to reserve my energy, finances and time for when their ‘big day’ comes.
Furthermore, it could potentially mean I would be exhausting myself (emotionally, financially and physically) for someone who could very well discard me in a few months or years as experience has sadly taught me. So I told myself “no more.” I chose me first.
Of the seven women I have been a bridesmaid for, I actively speak to three. I am under no illusions that when you get married and then have a family of your own, your priorities change. Even before you get married, this can shift and in the relationship hierarchy, friendships are usually at the bottom. Partners, family and children will typically supersede.
And that’s okay – we all have to prioritise and the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with and potentially start a family with should rank pretty highly!
For the record, my closest friends that I mentioned above, those who are yet to get married, I don’t speak to every day. We’re all far busier than we were as teenagers so it’s not practicable. The important thing is that when we do talk or hang out, it’s as though no time has passed and we fill each other in on what’s been going on and we’re there when it matters.
The three women I was a bridesmaid for that I still have regular contact with are also people I don’t speak to daily (although one of them sends me prayers and prays for me daily – I love her dearly for that). These three women taught me a valuable lesson that the optimist in me believed but did not seen manifest in a number of people; you can gain a husband (and in two of their cases, have a child) and not lose your [unmarried] friends.
The particular friendship that became a ghost when it was once a keeper of my dreams, the loss that hurt the most, is something that has been on my mind for some months now. I remember soliciting advice from my mother (who got married before many of her friends) and asking if my friends behaviour was normal? My mum helped me to see things from her point of view – I needed to be more understanding.
So I gave her the benefit of the doubt when she only wanted to talk about babies and never met me on neutral ground – always in the area she lived (far from me) and at a point, never without the baby in tow. After quite some time of feeling less important and worth making an effort for, I stopped trying and so did she. And that’s how 12 years of experiences, inappropriate humour and support became a silhouette against the dimming sky of our friendship.
I recently tried to reach out and was given a possible period for a meet up, months in advance with no concrete answer. I missed my friend, but it felt like I was the only one willing to try, so I asked her to let me know when she’s free and I was happy to work around her. I am yet to get a response.
The reason that this situation is more prominent in my mind is because I was chatting to the mother of my godson recently, trying to arrange a catch up and she told me to let her know where to meet her and she would be there. I suggested me to coming to her because my godson is so young (less than 4 months old), but she was more than happy to travel to my location of choice or meet me half way.
It completely threw me and got me thinking about the other women in my immediate or peripheral circle of friends who are similar and I genuinely took a moment to thank God for their lives because thankfully there are a few! They have no idea what these small, or actually quite big acts of understanding and selflessness can mean to someone who isn’t married yet and/or doesn’t have a child.
“The voluntary nature of friendship makes it subject to life’s whims in a way other relationships aren’t”
The deep investment we make in any close friendship results in feelings of devastation should we lose it. Although I am sad for some of the losses, I am grateful for the memories and always smile on the off-chance I see their updates on social media. Seeing my friends happy makes me happy. Hopefully one day our worlds will collide again – perhaps when I have a husband of my own.