On Tuesday night, I went to a fantastic birthday party for a coworker. I was enjoying some punch (that crazy punch with sherbet in it! I hadn't had that in ages! From a glass punchbowl and everything!) when I looked up and saw my former boss.
I have not seen her in over a year, since she left the company where I still work. She and I had a great working and personal relationship. She mentored me in the workplace and was invited to my wedding. She knew and loved John. She was extremely supportive during John's illness. That said, I recognize that she is not an easy person to work with or be friends with. She is a strong person who is not afraid to express her opinion or ruffle feathers. When she left the workplace, she was not on good terms with many of the people in the office, and I felt that our relationship had become more tenuous although in an intangible, gut-feeling kind of way. We parted on good terms and said that we would keep in touch. She wanted to meet the babies and keep tabs on how our family was doing.
I assumed (a bad start . . . ) that she was a part of the Yahoo group that I use to keep people up to date on what's going on with our family. Since I figured she was getting regular updates from us, I thought it very strange that I never heard from her after the twins were born, never heard from her as John got sicker and died. Not a peep. Even if she was not on our Yahoo group, I knew that she was in touch with other people who were and thus must have known what was going on. I could have picked up the phone, of course, but excuses, excuses, excuses, and she was never at the top of my call list. Besides, I really felt like the burden of responsibility rested on her to call and check in. As we all (or at least most of us) learned in grade school, it's a two-way street, right?
So it was quite a shock to look up and see her on Tuesday night. I went over to her and gave her a hug; it seemed to make her a bit uncomfortable. I gave her husband a hug too, and got a whispered, "I'm so sorry." So they must know of John's death. I was glad not to have to tell them at a birthday party.
I chatted with them for a good ten minutes. My former boss never said one word about John. Never asked about the twins. Frankly, she appeared totally bored by talking to me. Not to sound like a five-year-old, but it really hurt my feelings. I finally excused myself to get some more punch (with sherbet!!) and spent the rest of the evening talking with friends.
At the end of the party, I went to say goodbye. I said, "Have you seen pictures of the twins on the Web?"
"Oh no," she replied. "We're not part of your group."
Well, that explains it. Kind of. I showed her a picture I carry in my wallet and told her that I'd love to get together to show them off. She said that would be nice. I jotted down her number just in case, though I was sure that I had it.
As I walked to my car, I felt more and more annoyed, hurt, and angry. Sure, she wasn't getting our messages, but why did she never call me? She's retired, for crying out loud! She knew I was having twins, she knew John was sick. And why do I now have to be the one to call her? Why could she not even ask me about my life as I stand there and make queries about her trips to Italy, her dinners at fancy restaurants, her kids, her life?
I feel like she believes—and wants me to believe—that I'm the one in the wrong. That I should have been calling her. That I now owe her something. I know in my head that's not the case. But in my heart I feel badly that our friendship soured. I'm torn about calling her. Part of me wants to just kick her in the teeth. Part of me wants to repair what was lost. But I can't do that on my own and I'm just not sure she wants to help.