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Yesterday, I responded to an email from one of my favorite friends from Lander. I’ve missed her… but wuss that I am, I’ve been avoiding the issue because I knew that I had hurt her feelings with my lack of response immediately following Mama’s death. I apologized, and she sent me pictures of her baby boy, who, sadly, I’ve never even met. I don’t know if all is well, or if all can ever be completely well again. What I do know is that yet another nagging worry from the bloody friendship-icide has been put to rest.

In the 6-month period following Mama’s death, I severed, ignored, ruthlessly chopped, and completely alienated everyone in my life except the core group and the Few, the Proud, the Ones Who Stuck It Out (that would be Merrill, Michele, Ginny Plant, and David Lee). I remember telling Bobby that if he were optional, I would cut him as well… and I wasn’t kidding. I wasn’t intentionally being evil. I just couldn’t seem to stop.

Dr Jerry told me that grieving is intrinsically a selfish process because you go into “survival mode.” When you’re seriously considering the pros and cons of driving your car into the concrete barrier on the way home, returning the phone calls of friends who don’t know what to say falls to the bottom of the “to do” list. But now, some time has passed, and the way that I miss Mama has changed. It hasn’t lessened – it’s just become bearable. And now I’m able to see and I’m truly sorry for the hurt that I’ve handed out like candy. I feel so guilty.

Collateral damage is defined as “unintended damage, injuries, or deaths caused by an action.” I guess the reparability of my relationships depends on which category they fall into. Were they damaged? Injured? Or killed?

Which inevitably leads me to our friendship with M and T.

I think about them almost every day. I wonder what they’re doing, how E’s doing, how their families are doing, if they ever miss us. It struck me again this morning that my and M’s lives are still running in parallel. We’re both experiencing all the “firsts” – the first birthday, the first Mother’s Day, the first Christmas, first Easter, first milestone after milestone. She’s a mother for the first time. I’m motherless for the first time. I wonder if – no, I KNOW – that there are things I could have done differently. But I’m not sure it would have changed the outcome. Fact: Our relationship had already begun its descent BEFORE Mama’s death, not BECAUSE of Mama’s death.

I was the little kid who picked off her scabs until they bled. Again, and again, and again. I remember Mama scolding me, saying “Sarah, stop, you’re going to have a scar if you keep picking at it.” I know, it’s time for me to stop picking at this one.