Relationships: What I Forgot To Say About The Branches On The Oak Tree

I remember writing an article about friendship sometime in 2008. I likened friendships/relationships to a huge Oak Tree. I likened the branches on this Oak Tree to the nature of our interactions as human beings. The gist of it is this:

Some branches begin to grow and then stop. They are tiny (or not so tiny) branches with no sub’s. They remain as they are; adding neither nourishment, nor disease to Oak Tree. I think we recognise these relationships in our lives. These people are reliable, but only for their purpose. They never let you down, nor wow you. They are who they are. Some other branches grow from strength to strength and even add on new branches along the way. I think this refers to those people we take with us in our journey through life, form mutual friends through them, and at some point call their parents mum and dad. When you have cried, laughed, been stupid, hurt or went through funny phases where you have nearly been arrested by the fashion police, they have been there. They can tell your story without …’s and with impressive accuracy.

Once upon a time, there was a branch on my Oak Tree and it even began to have multiple branches growing off it. It was strong and firm. We shared tears, we shared laughter, and we shared secrets. Then, there was ‘the fall-out’ and like stillbirth, what could have been a beautifully blossomed friendship ended just like that. Today I should be calling to blow out candles on his birthday cake, instead, I will send a text which will read formal enough, but with an ‘x’ on the end for old time’s sake. The text will wish him a happy birthday and hope he enjoys his day. As I send this text, I will reminisce about good times, but remind myself that he is ostracised from such thoughts and I will convince myself that as he has made no effort to contact me, he must feel the same way too. Well, everyone is happy all round, right? Before the decay, he was a good old, strong, dependable branch. What changed? Can it not be overlooked? Really?

I know everyone at one point or another has experienced this. You grew up together, were quite similar in your approaches to life, and even at certain points were joined at the hip; but now, you cannot stand each other. OR- you met randomly along the way in life, hit it off big time, spent hours on end swapping life stories, and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company. Now, due to that fall out last year or was it the year before (of course you can remember the exact date even – your ego is trying to act all blasé), you don’t speak so much anymore, and when you do, the conversation is awkward because the comfort is lost somewhat. In any case, why would you want to talk to them? You do not give a sh1t about what branches are growing in their Oak Tree, do ya?

But the truth is we miss them. We miss them because we did not intend to fall out with them. No-one engages in a friendship/relationship with the view to end it at some point. Your heart chose that person for qualities that endear them to you. You spent hours on the phone to them or in their company because what they said/did mattered. Now there has been a difference of opinion and sometimes, the damage is irreparable and you write them off. Does your heart write them off too? Do you never see a photo of them and remember something funny that happened the day it was taken? Do you never watch a mutually favourite programme/football game and wish you could text them about it? Do you never wonder what happened with that relationship/friendship they said was underway in the office? Heck, don’t you even wonder if they bought those shoes they wanted so much, or if their mum/sibling/cousin/long lost friend/cat – whoever (!) made it through the illness they were fighting? When you cut them off, did your heart cut them off as well?

Can we allow room for individual frailties? If so, perhaps we could correct the word ‘death’ of the branch and replace instead with ‘infestation’, in which case we can get whatever ingredients necessary to repair said branch. Think of it – of the millions of numbers in your phone book, that number would be in the dialled list. Now, you will always scroll back up to this number for a second and sigh, contemplate pressing delete, but never actually do. What are you going to do about it? What if there is no tomorrow? Another statistic in our could’a, would’a, should’a story? Is it worth it? No? Pick up the (I won’t swear) phone then. Make the first move. Sometimes our egos make the biggest fools out of us and we forget that friendship is love. Love is unconditional.

Until next time, let’s dig deep!

Sally Chiwuzie

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