The car in front of me sports personal license plates. “BIPOLAR” it says. Interesting choice, I think. Is it a warning? There’s a reason for vanity plates. My own car bears the plates QTPA2T. (sound it out – you’ll get it)
I watch the car zip through the parking lot and screech to a halt. From the door springs a tall red head in a clingy dress. She is laughing and talking animatedly on her cell phone, in a voice that rings out overtop the breeze of traffic.
As I park my car I continue to observe from a distance and soon become lost in a memory I have tried for too long to cast aside.
She was one of my best friends once upon a time. Funny, caring, a champion of people’s rights, opinionated, strong willed, and bold. She was also restless, impatient and demanding but all in a charismatic sort of way. And she could build you up or devastate you with her words depending on her mood.
Being her friend wasn’t easy and I suppose if she had been diagnosed with the manic-depression before we had met and sealed a friendship, I might have steered clear of her and she of me. The clues to the disease were there long before conclusion was made but as is often the case, the illness got more pronounced over time.
Yet, we were friends and she was there for me during the dark days of my own depression. How could I not be there for her? I still am mystified over how the relationship unraveled to the point that it did but I have long since learned to stop blaming myself for baling when I did. You know that cautionary tale of trying to rescue someone who is drowning… Don’t let yourself get pulled under as well? I had to let go of her at some point or risk sinking again myself.
That doesn’t absolve all the guilt however.
There was never any middle of the road for her. She was fire; she was ice. She was the brightest orb of sunshine; she was the darkest ink of night. I loved her fierceness, her energy, her passion. I envied her force. I feared her dark side; her words could discharge like a shotgun, if she was on a tear. I wanted to help her but she was never the needy one.
She never lost control. Or so we all thought. The day her world came crashing down was one of the most adrenaline charged days of my life as I fought to keep my sanity while watching her lose hers.
And here, sitting in the parking lot, watching this vibrant woman who reminds me so of my lost friend, my emotions rush to the surface.
I reach for my own cell phone and hit speed dial. The voice at the other end is the velvet I need to sooth this jagged edge. Steady, calm and balanced, she is all the things the other was not. She arrived on the scene shortly after our friendship deteriorated, as if she had been appointed by Someone who knew I would need her.
We talk, inanely, for a time until I sense my own calm returning. I don’t mention the real reason for the call and she never asks. It proves the old adage: “Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don't say."
The red headed driver with the BIPOLAR vanity plates has long since disappeared. Just like my lost friend. I tried numerous times to reach out to her, hoping we could re-build the bridge between our hearts. But in her stubborn, prideful and carefully constructed veneer, there wasn’t room for forgiveness I guess. In her mind, I walked away when she needed me most.
Some wounds run too deep to heal.
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