Friday, July 25, 2008


Some years ago - about 15 or so - a good friend began displaying really bizarre behaviour. Her life had been really disrupted and difficult for a few years and so she decided to make a major change in her circumstances.

That in itself wasn't such a worry but there were other details that were too out of character and too odd to lump in to the "just making significant changes" category. I was terrified for her, to the point that I was worried for her life. Enough that I called one of her family members to let them know I was really concerned about her and why.

Of course this family member called her and I'm glad they did but she was furious with me.

It would be a lie to say I wasn't shocked that she was angry with me. Really angry. The 'don't ever speak to me again' type angry.

Looking back, however, considering how unlike her usual self she was then, I can understand her reaction. Despite that, were that situation to recur -with her or with someone else, I would do it again.

What kind of friend was I, really, had I not been willing to put the friendship on the line? I was terrified that she was not moving out of the city but that she intendied to shuffle off the proverbial coil. The truest test of a freindship is whether one will sacrifice that friendship to preserve the life of that friend.

I did hestitate to make that call but I made it anyway because, if I were wrong about her, so what? If I were right? That was a different story. I couldn't turn away and hope for the best.

At the time, she hadn't the perspective to understand; everything else was wrong and my actions were just one more wrong thing. We are friends again, for the record and I know she understands now why I did what I did.

In more recent years, a young man I did not know well but who was one of my children's circle also took his life. After, there were many, many regrets and many comments of "I wish I'd said something or done something. I kinda knew something was up."

Sadly, those who felt there was something terribly wrong didn't do or say anything for fear of pissing of the young man or for fear of being, themselves, uncomfortable or perhaps making a mistake or being wrong.

But what if?

What if one person had conquored their own fear of being wrong, of pissing of said young man? What if he had become really angry? What if he had lashed out? What if he had understood that one person gave a damn, and what if that had kept him from shooting himself in his family's garage?

What if that one person had lost that friend but that friend were not now dead?

What if?

What are we willing to risk to preserve the friend even though doing so - keeping that person alive - might kill the friendship?

Photo Credit: David Rabinowitz

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