August 31, 2014

Contemplation of Changes

I feel blessed to be me. Every day.

A life-changing moment for me happened six or 7 years ago. It has stuck with me like no other lesson has in my 45 years.

My bestest friend since we were both 5 years old. We met in kindergarten. That big playroom in the basement of our local elementary school. I loved her like no other. My eyes fill with tears as I type this. I still love her and I miss her terribly.

Unfortunately, things happen, people change and events cannot be undone. I am abundantly grateful for the 30+ years we had together and will cherish our good memories forever.

One day my friend and I met up as we always did. She was wearing a luxurious leather jacket that was stunning (as were most outfits) on her! One simple question that I wish I never asked her. One moment in time I cannot forget. My world of trust came crashing down on me like a entire mountain range and my sky really was falling.

I simply asked my bestie where she got the coat while giving her rave reviews on her choice and loving it and loving her.

I will never be able to completely describe the feelings of my heart dropping from my chest. Such loss is tragic to the soul. The person I held in high regard explained how her new jacket came to be.

She ordered two jackets in from a local store, paid for both and took them both home to try out better. This made total sense to me since she is tall with long arms. And don't we all know that lots of times we try things on in the store, buy the items but then something's not quite the same once it's home? She explained her likes and dislikes in each coat finally deciding to keep the longer, more expensive leather piece. She returned the the cheaper coat to the store for a refund.

You know how sometimes you're listening to someone describe a situation in their life or you see a show on tv and people are saying, "I didn't know. I just didn't know." Well, if there ever was one, this was my 'I didn't know' moment. And still years later, I ask myself how could I have not known, but I. Did. Not. Know.

My friend explained to me that she was returned the cheaper leather jacket to the store. She purposefully put the cheap jacket into the packaging that the more expensive coat was originally in.

Now some may say that it's not the end of the world. I can agree with you. It very well may not be the end of YOUR world.

My thoughts were whirling wildly. My heart was breaking from utter disappointment and absolute disbelief. We were raised by good, decent, honest parents I heard my naive self scream. Who was this person standing in front of me?

My friend knowingly and intently returned an item in the wrong packaging for her own monetary gain. I can't remember how much extra "refund" money she received. I think my brain shut down at some point. I was reeling. And really, whether it be a dollar or a million dollars, the intent was malicious and fraudulent.

Yes, what my friend just described to me was fraud. Thirty year friendship. I didn't know my friend was a thief. I. Did. Not. Know. Looking back, as hindsight is always 20/20, there were signs I guess. But she was my friend, my bestest friend in the whole wide world I hear my 5 year old self crying to itself.

This time I could not make excuses for my friend's actions. I could not reason the situation out. It just didn't make sense.

Not only did she commit fraud, when I asked her WHY she did it, she self-righteously stated, "They (the company) have more money than I do." I responded, "But it's stealing!" She quickly replied, "I need the money more than they do."  Not sure if she could see my bigger than believable eyes or if that vision was just in my head. I couldn't believe it but I had to. There stood my friend right in front of me. Those words coming from her lips. It was happening. She went on to say, "You just think you're so perfect like you've never done anything wrong." The last thing I heard myself say was, "No, I'm not perfect. Never have been. Never try to be and never will be but one other thing I'm not is.......a thief." It's true. I'm not perfect but I try to live an honest life and be the best person I can be.

My lifelong friend who was more like a sister to me was a thief. My friend with a government job was a thief. I still ask myself, "How much money does a person need?"

As I relive this moment of heartbreak, even though I know it's better to know the truth, I have regret in asking a simple question to my best friend. "Where'd ya get the jacket?"

I have only seen my friend twice in all the years past. She has turned out to be a bitter enemy. The truth hurts. I assume it makes her feel better to cut me down to others. I just let it be because I have the truth and I have forged ahead continuing to try to live the truth.

The first time we saw each other after that encounter, we ignored each other while in the same store. The second time our paths crossed, she came up to me at my dad's funeral telling me what a lovely service it was and I thanked her for coming. While I had a million things on my mind, at that exact moment during the service luncheon I remember one thought as she walked away from my table, "Watch the silverware."(Really, can you believe that was my thought?)

I have yet to connect with anyone the same way I did with my kindergarten pal but apparently, change every thirty or so years is necessary and good for the soul.

'Live and let live'. Fortunately, we do not have to let dishonest people live in our lives.