My kids call her "Aunt," actually her nick name was "Aunt Witch." I don't even remember why. But it was funny. We talked on the phone for at least an hour every day. And I mean every single solitary day. We also spent a lot of time sitting at dining room tables, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.
We lived through her daughter having her first psychotic break and ending up in a psychiatric hospital (I work there now and from time to time I remember coming as a visitor so many years ago). We lived through four divorces between us. Three marriages. More relationships than I would care to recall. She helped me raise my kids. We knew each other's families. Her family kind of adopted me because I didn't have family in town.
The photo above (I hope it is blurry enough to be anonymous) was taken at her birthday party in July of 1987. I was three years sober and 35 years old. We had a huge party at her house. Her husband (the multi-gazillionaire) was out of town, and we acted like adolescents. We even set the roof on fire with fireworks... but were able to put it out. I don't know who took the photo of us standing together. But I do know that years later when I was in the hospital after my hysterectomy, she brought the photo to me, in a frame. It meant the world to me. It still does, it is still on my bulletin board - I don't know what became of the frame.
We laughed together, we cried together, we got angry together, we prayed together, and we stayed sober together. We mainly laughed a lot. She always saw me as being better than I know I am. She thought I saw her as being better than she was, but I disagreed.
We loved each other. We thought we would be friends forever. We speculated about what it would be like to be old ladies, still best of friends.
But things change, don't they?
She met a man, and he lived far away. In the UK. She gave away a lot of her possessions, she packed a few, and moved away from everything she knew and loved to live with him. That was when I got my first computer - so I could e-mail her. We e-mailed each other every day.
At one point, I planned a trip to visit her. But circumstances intervened and the trip was cancelled.
When her mother died, she came and stayed with me. When she left, I had no idea I would never see her again. That was in 1998.
A few years later, her e-mails started getting weird. She had always been a good writer, but suddenly her writing became almost incomprehensible. In the wee hours of the morning, she would write long and rambling e-mails complaining bitterly of her husband and in the morning it would all be forgotten - for her. It took me a while to realize she was drinking again.
I tried to remain her friend, but it became increasingly difficult. I began to dread her phone calls, and depending on the time of day, I would sometimes let them go straight to voice mail. Our e-mails became more sporadic.
She started sending me junk e-mail. I wrote to her and asked her not to do that, please. And I never heard from her again.
I got a Christmas card from her last year. I sent her one too.
I guess that is what our relationship is reduced to.
I can't begin to describe how sad this all is.
It all boils down to one person drinking and the other person being sober. That just doesn't work (in my experience). Particularly when our relationship started by her telling me about AA and how by her helping me, she would be helping herself.
I am the only twelve step she ever did.
I will be forever grateful that God put her in my life. I hope someday it will change. But for now, I can be grateful for a wonderful friendship I got to enjoy for 16 years before she moved away.