Sunday, July 23, 2017


By: Kelli J Gavin

A year ago, I had to ask a friend of mine what the term Ghosted meant.  He explained that it was when you have been talking with someone online,  getting to know them, have developed a closeness, and you feel like you could share anything.  He said it was the start of a promising relationship. Hours of time spent laughing and sharing life experiences on the phone and finding that this promising relationship often times becomes the most important one in your life. And one day, the phone isn’t answered and text messages go ignored. A few days pass, you call or text again. Nothing. No response.

Claire* and I had been friends for three years and had met through a mutual friend. She was silly, yet serious when need be, generous and outgoing.  She was a married mom of two who loved books, swimming and walks just as I did. She and I spent a lot of time together and enjoyed sitting on the deck eating dinner while the kids swam in the back yard. In the winter, we went to the library and to the thrift stores and bakery for Saturday morning donut treats for the kids. We enjoyed late evening texting and she was an amazing wordsmith. Claire was a great judge of character, possessed a thriving Faith and felt comfortable voicing concern if I was making a poor decision or if she felt I needed to make a change.  I welcomed her advice, her gentle spirit and coaxing when I knew she had my best interest at heart.

I had become quite overwhelmed with the kids, work and just the plain busyness of life, and had unfortunately fallen behind on replying to text messages, invitations to events and returning voicemails.  I sent a quick text every couple of days to say hi, or to apologize and that soon my schedule would slow down. I let her know that I was praying for her and her family and that I missed her company and our fun, easy conversations. I didn’t hear back one day and believed that she was just busy.  On a rare morning off, I stopped by Caribou and grabbed two coffees and bolted over to her house before she might leave for the morning. I knocked. No answer. I rang the bell, no answer. I heard children in the house. I leaned closer to the door. Yes. Children. Laughing and playing and enjoying the day.  Wierd. I knocked again. Nothing. Maybe Claire was in the shower. Most kids were instructed to not answer the door when mom was in the shower, right? I set the coffee down off to the side of her front door and walked back to the car. I grabbed my phone and sent a quick text.  “Sorry I missed you! Stopped by for a visit. Caribou on your front porch. Enjoy and have a great day!”

A few weeks later, I was grocery shopping with the kids at Target. I saw Claire, and I thought she saw me. I made eye contact with her, her eyes darted away quickly and raced out the front door with a full cart. My daughter shouted, “Hi Claire!!!”  With a nervous smile she turned slightly back to face us, but kept her pace and continued to exit the store. I stood staring. My daughter asked why she didn’t stop. I told her that maybe Claire just didn’t hear us. I wiped a tear and went to pay for our groceries.

I attempted to contact Claire a few times over the next few months. My heart was so hurt and my mind was on overdrive.  What did I do? Was I at fault? Did she get upset that I was busy and didn’t care about our friendship anymore? Did this have anything to do with me? Was Claire struggling with her own private pain? Maybe something she wasn’t ready to share? Something she couldn’t even face herself? Was there marital problems or maybe drugs or alcohol were involved? What? Was I placing the blame on her instead of exploring the idea that I was one that had failed?  What happened that she was willing to walk away from our close friendship and not look back? I wanted to know. I wanted to know even if she hated me for something I had done. Even if we couldn’t be friends. What happened? I needed closure. I wanted closure.

I sit here today realizing that Ghosting is something that happens in real life, not just online. It wasn’t something meaningless like un-friending me on Facebook. I had been un-friended in real life. Ghosted. It hurt me. It still hurts me. I often struggle with the idea that maybe I am not the best friend. That I am easily consumed by other things and I don’t allow enough time to work on friendships. I know that I need friendships, and that friendships are something to hold dear. Because one day, that friendship may be nonexistent.

Maybe I will run into Claire again at Target, or at The Crooked Pint or at the Chaska Library. Maybe not.  I feel as if I am more aware of the mutual effort that goes into a friendship. I am also aware that I lead a guarded life now. I grieve for my lost friendship with Claire. The stages of grief apply to so many situations. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression and Acceptance.  I am now at the Acceptance stage.  My heart still experiences the loss, but I now understand that our friendship served a purpose. And I accept that maybe I needed to be Ghosted so I would start investing in my friendships the way that others always had.

*name changed

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