Hope within Lost Friendship

Apr 24, 2013 by

          Loss of friendship is too common of an occurrence for me, sometimes due to my dependent personality and sometimes due to my dislike of clingy people (I’m aware of the irony). I used to compare the end of friendship to death. My reasoning was that if I’m not going to see certain friends again, they are essentially dead from my perspective; I no longer speak to them, I begin to forget things about them, and I have no insight into their lives. They are forever frozen in time as the same people they were when I last saw them.

          Currently reading C’est la Vie by Suzy Gershman, I no longer feel that my comparison between lost friendship and death is fair. The book is Suzy’s retelling of her experience moving to Paris from New York. Within the first 25 pages, I was choking down my tears while reading in Chapters (not embarrassing at all). To give you some context as to how sad this book made me feel, I rarely cry at movies, never mind books. I did not shed a single tear during the typical tearjerkers, like Titanic, A Walk to Remember, or The Notebook. The only movie that I can think of that has made me cry is One Day (because I have a heart!). As for books, I cannot think of one that has ever made me cry. That is, until C’est la Vie.

          This book isn’t written in a sad tone. Suzy is brave, in control of her life, and positive, and her writing reflects this. The situation she’s in pre-Paris just is sad. It’s heartbreaking. It’s essentially the reverse plot of Up, a Disney.Pixar film in which a married couple spends their entire lives dreaming of a big trip, only for the wife to die before they reach their destination, leaving her husband to go it alone (What the hell, Disney?).

          In Suzy’s real life version, she tries to convince her husband, Mike, to retire in Paris, a city that they visit together frequently. Although they both love Paris, Mike is disinterested in retiring there, but Suzy eventually convinces him to do a one-year trial run. He happily agrees, and they begin dreaming of their year in the City of Light. It never comes. Mike is diagnosed with terminal cancer soon after they start planning their getaway. Suzy cries into his chest every night, asking him what she will do without him. Every night, he assures her that she will go to Paris. He tells her that Paris is waiting for her. Cue my public bawling (I am holding back tears right now just thinking about it). Six weeks following his diagnosis, Mike dies. I, the reader, feel my heart crush in on itself. Suzy, obviously much stronger than I am, goes to Paris to live their dream alone.

          I am nothing short of inspired by this woman. She loses her person, in the greatest sense of the word, and she keeps going on. The book is written with the perfect charm of reality. Her love of Paris is evident, but the city and her experience of moving there are not idealized. (In the fight against my desire to get on a plane everyday, this is exactly what I need to be reading. It keeps me motivated to go to Europe, while also keeping me grounded within my current situation: the preparation stage. I can’t just decide to go to Europe and be off. I need to make it happen first.)

          Fifty-five pages in, this book can be best described by the cliché fresh start. Suzy’s story focuses on her life after her husband. (Of course, there is mention of him here and there. For example, she decorates her new apartment with flowers, knowing Mike would agree with her that they bring life to the space. Step. On. My. Heart. Already.) It is truly a story that proves that there is life after loss. Instead of playing what she often refers to as the “widow card,” this woman, aware that she will never share another moment with her husband, creates a fabulous new lifestyle for herself.

          Suzy’s example has shown me that no loss of friendship is equivalent to the ultimate loss of death. Loss of a friendship still implies hope. How lucky am I that, in my journey to take charge of my life, I can have hope that my person is not forever gone?

          After some procrastination, I spoke with Olivia. (The sudden urgency may or may not have been prompted by C’est la Vie.) It was relieving. We talked (as opposed to yelled). We communicated effectively (as opposed to me locking myself in the bathroom). I genuinely apologized (as opposed to saying that I’m sorry because I thought it was the right thing to do). We have some work to do and we know that, but our friendship will not be lost. We both value it too much to let it fall into our pasts. My life will continue along a path of happiness, best friend intact. And so, I am going home tomorrow. I am so excited/happy!

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