We Will Never Be Friends
We were born into our own worlds, just two months apart, each placed into the arms of people who would love and care for us as all should be loved and cared for. We both spoke our first words, took our first steps, started school, made friends, grew and grew and grew until we looked, sounded and acted more like women than girls. We probably hit a lot of milestones together, though apart. Maybe when I met my best friend, aged 6, you were meeting yours, aged 5 and 10 months. Maybe when I was moved to a new school years later, the butterflies in my stomach were in yours too because you were being moved to a new country. Maybe when I was bed ridden with love, with my first love… maybe that’s when you were bed ridden with disease, alone. Maybe the cycle of excitement, hope, uncertainty and doubt that started in me when I got this job started in you when you decided to give it to me. Maybe you think of these parallel lives as often as I do and maybe you never mention it to me because you know.
We will never be friends.
Every morning it’s me you wake up to. Every night, it’s me who tucks you in, says goodnight and switches the light off. You’re grateful, I know. Sometimes you say so. You don’t have to. I can tell. We spend too much time together for me not to be able to tell what gratitude looks like on your face. Sometimes I see it pure and simple. It’s contagious when it’s like that. My chest swells when it’s like that. Sometimes it’s clouded though. Usually when you feel you need to say so. You thank me but you wish you didn’t have to. You wish you didn’t need me. I wish you didn’t either.
Instead, we could have been friends.
We live together. In this flat, yes, but mostly in this room. This room whose walls are the only witness to this unique partnership. It seems one-way on the surface but it truly is a partnership. I work with you, not for you and because I give my time so that you might have more of yours, I care so much more about what you do with it. But I trust you to use it wisely, so it doesn’t feel like sacrifice. It doesn’t matter to me who the spender is as long as it is spent well. For every bit of time I give to you, I gain too. I gain a better understanding of you and your reality, which alters mine. For the better. I feel love toward you, in a form I’ve never felt before. Generated through the depth of the conversations I could never have with another and the meaning in your actions I couldn’t gather elsewhere. It makes me grateful. But there’s a line this partnership exists beyond, started beyond. A line this partnership can never cross.
We will never be friends.
Soon, our time together will be over. Not because the partnership changed but because I did. When I leave, I won’t be able to express to you the profound ways in which your ailing body and tortured mind have served to strengthen my body and enhance my mind. It wouldn’t be fair… but there aren’t the words anyway. Once I am gone, you will start another partnership with someone new and I will fall into place on your long list of partners who now belong in the past. A list that may continue to grow until you, finally, are the one who leaves. I was scared of you, and others like you, before I met you. Fear of the unknown I guess. And pity for someone I didn’t understand. Then, I learnt that you are as whole a person as I am. You are my equal, you have been a mentor — unaware of your teachings, a source of emotion — light and dark, and a great challenge — overcome with my newfound confidence. I am sure I will look back to you over my lifetime to see a milestone to rival any other.
I just wish I could call you my friend.