In high school there was a girl I became best friends with, and we remained close all through school and after graduation. Then, in 1999, she and her husband were involved in a horrible vehicle accident, which left her paralyzed, with limited use of her arms and hands. I was devastated but never stopped being her friend. I visited her in the hospital as much as possible, and we talked on the phone a lot. But she'd never come to my house, and we never went out to do things. I always had to go to her house to visit, and with my young kids, that was sometimes hard. Eventually, we drifted apart. I feel guilty for letting our friendship die, but it can't just be one-sided. We haven't seen or spoken to each other in about four years, and I miss her. Is there hope for finding that friendship again?
A.Z., 35, Ossian, IA
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You won't know unless you try. It sounds as if you were good friends, and as if you really did make an effort. After her accident, I'm sure she wasn't happy to be burdensome; she may have realized the friendship was one-sided but was powerless to do anything about it. In other words, don't feel guilty; it takes two people to make a friendship work.
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Anyway, 10 years have passed since then. Your kids are older, so there's one fewer obstacle to connecting with your old high school comrade. It's possible she's also more comfortable getting around now, which may in turn make her feel more confident and willing and able to hold up her end of the relationship.
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There's something else to bear in mind: All friendships change over time, even those that are tragedy-free. It's one of the symptoms of being a grown-up. Those endless hours of hang-out time have been loaded up with husbands, kids, errands, and meetings. So even if you do reestablish a friendship with her, it may simply consist of chatting on the phone or catching up on Facebook, and seeing each other for coffee every few weeks. And maybe that's all it's meant to be.
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Karen Karbo is an award-winning writer and author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World's Most Elegant Woman. She's also a mom, a writing teacher, and a horse owner. Check out more advice from Karen.
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