It’s snowing a blizzard outside now and the kids are up here in the loft with me, tumbling around in the bed wrestling and all kinds of crazy. From a morning that started out rather energetic (washing bedding, folding clothes, loving on kids, making fresh pita) I am now after one phone call drained. My mother just canceled on me for birthday plans tomorrow – plans, oddly, she encouraged me to make in the first place.
It hurts precisely because it is not new behavior, and precisely because it continues on and on unabated. I feel foolish to treat her as if she was someone I could count on. If she was any friend of mine I’d pull back my own investment, my time and love. Perhaps that’s what I’ll do in any case.
I believe she feels bad about this; after each commitment rescinded, each time she “forgets” something she’s promised to, shortly thereafter comes the offer of a favor, often one that involves money or a gift of no small expense. In this case, it’s a dinner for my family (other more proactive friends have already scheduled this for us). The offer of a hosted dinner, funnily enough – behavior she and her siblings have cited in their father, my grandfather. The phrase uttered: “buying your love” – a favor, a deposit to a bank account, a lavish present, when what one really wants is time, or commitment, or honesty. I have never needed money more than I need friendship, so I can refuse these offers if I like (and in this case, I do). I remind myself I cannot spit back the offer as anything less than another expression of love, however it misses the mark for me. Just because cash is not my language of love does not mean it is worthless.
As I resume folding laundry my spirits are glum. Almost unbidden I think of the warm phone conversation I shared with a friend this morning and the advancement of trust she put in our friendship today. I think of my friend J. – whom I’ve never met in person – and the ties and trust we’ve forged through emails and letters. I think of my friends who have kept the faith in so many ways – who have either not betrayed me or we’ve succeeded in mending the breach. The thought of the faithful helps me now to know that somehow it’s okay that I’ve been let down, it’s okay that I’m hurt, and it’s okay that I will find forgiveness in my heart, likely soon. I just don’t have it now.
My daughter looks over my shoulder as I type. Her hand feels warm, and gritty. I will go downstairs and run us a bath and do what we call “spring cleaning” – clipping nails, cleaning ears, running a bubble bath, our splashing crowded in the warm, fragrant, small little bathroom. I will think on my own betrayals to them and tune my ear all the more to their voices.