My dear friends are breaking up.
More than twenty years together.
Their names roll off my lips as easily as saying "Laurel and Hardy". Now, I need to curl my tongue in a different way to add the new name that has been added--and attached--to one of them.
I feel sad. It feels wrong like wearing slippers on the wrong feet.
My mom points to these lovely trees in her yard. The limbs are turning yellow. "See that?" She points out. "That tree is dying. I need to take it down".
I see dead parts of it and it makes me sad. Her home was built in 1850. Our family has lived there since 1970. Those trees have loved and embraced that house she now lives in for many, many years. It saddens me to see it be taken down. I feel it has protected the house. And whenever I see the home, I see the tree. I cannot imagine one without the other.
This relationship of my friends is reminding me of this tree.
If you ask either one, they would say they were very happy together. No red flares. No warning signs. Life with each other was a dream. Just "someone else" gave extra attention to one of them, and then.. "that person" reciprocated.
For awhile, I felt numb. Surely, this is a phase ... I would convince myself. We would still hang out together on warm summer evenings. Still hold on to our inside jokes. We would keep our annual vacation trips to tropical islands or fun, exciting roadtrips.
We'd still laugh and say, "remember when...?" and we would. And we'd laugh as we felt the warmth of our friendship and make plans for our future and growing old together.
I realize people go through this everyday. The uprooting is so common among so many people. I'm not sure why the upheaval feels so fresh and so volatile to me.
But then again, a tree doesn't grow its roots all at once. The roots slowly creep deeper and wider with each passing day. Eventually, their hold onto the earth is so strong, it can withstand the strongest of winds or the soaking of the wettest storms. When, this doesn't happen anymore.. it feels so unsettling. A limb falling here. And there. The leaves turning yellow. It doesn't feel as strong or secure as it once was.
Today I am wearing two signs on my heart. For now, they say: "NO TRESPASSING" and "KEEP OUT". I know, in time, those signs will go down.
I love my friends no-matter-what. My heart will expand and grow with them and the partners they seek after, and, because it's a beating heart and a beating heart must continually pump out life, a new sign will hang in its place.
It will read "ENTER AT OWN RISK".
Only this time, I will turn the sign around toward me.
And the risk will be mine.