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Losing Isabelle

I met Isabelle through a Bible study over twenty years ago while still living in my hometown. I came to value her no-nonsense way of looking at life.

Throughout the Years

A chat with Isabelle grounded me in reality, while readjusting my point of view to one that was more beneficial to me, especially when I had to find a resolution to a particular problem. She also had a sense of humour that would make an appearance in delightfully unexpected ways.

Another aspect of my relationship with Isabelle that I appreciated was that I could share my personal struggles and adventures in being a Christian. One day when we were chatting in her kitchen, sipping coffee at the table, her 16 year old son walked into the room to ask his mother something. After he left, I turned to Isabelle and asked, “Is that the same person you used to bring to Bible study in a portable baby basket?” She nodded. It seemed amazing to me that we had known each other for all those years. Even after I moved to the West Coast, we found meaningful ways to stay in touch.

Little Storms

It seemed that distance wouldn’t make a difference to our friendship. But gradually I became aware of episodic hiccups in our relationship; no major storms; just little things that struck me as odd, but ones I promptly attributed to other factors like her being a wife and mother of two children. After returning to Vancouver from this one particular visit with my family, it occurred to me that I was initiating almost all of the contact, whether it was keeping in touch by email or phone. I thought I’d take a breather and see what happened.

It seemed that Isabelle needed a break from our friendship. A couple of years passed. I hadn’t stopped thinking about her or wondering how she was. About this time last year, I wrote her an email, apologizing for anything I might have done to cause the rift between us and that I missed her. I was truly overjoyed when Isabelle wrote back. I replied to her email, letting her know that I was pleased that we were in touch once again. Later on in the summer, heading into fall, I sent her a short note with some news.

Then nothing. After an explanation of why she lost touch and reconnection, we were now suddenly unconnected again. Not one to give up easily on a friend or a friendship, I sent her a brief email in December before leaving Vancouver for a visit with my family, saying I’d be in town over the holidays and including a number where I could be reached. I never heard from Isabelle.

Life is Like That

Now that I am unemployed again, I keenly feel the loss of my friendship with Isabelle. Previously when I was jobless for lengthy chunks of time, she’d constantly remind me I was on her prayer list; when I lived in town, she’d drop by for impromptu visits, sometimes with her kids, bringing little gifts like a canister of flavoured coffee or a tin of homemade goodies; while I was out of work in Vancouver, she’d call occasionally for chat. She was a prism that fractured the incomprehensibilities of my world into tranquil understanding.

Losing my friend Isabelle occurred in stages in so subtle a process, that now looking back, I realize our relationship was almost over just at the point I realized something wasn’t quite right. When Paul Theroux discovered he had lost his friend of over thirty years, he wrote a book about it. Mine is just a blog post, but it’s a way of letting go and moving on.

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