Yes, M, I would love some mac and cheese with my whine ….

M made me mac and cheese for dinner. This is significant. Not because he cooked – M cooks all the time and is actually pretty good at it – but because M HATES boxed mac and cheese. Even the organic stuff I keep for emergency comfort food events. Anything with powdered cheese has got to poisonous, he says. I don’t care. I love the stuff and only eat it every few months in winter, which in our part of California translates to 1 or 2 boxes a year.

So I am poking my head in the refrigerator, looking longingly at salad greens and the bottle of ranch dressing (okay, not really) and the leftover chicken stored in there. I resign myself to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which M declares is NOT dinner-worthy, and tells me he’ll fix me something not too hot, not too cold, and definitely not hard and crunchy. I am envisioning a room temperature bowl of mashed potatoes and shredded chicken with mushy, overcooked broccoli (which actually doesn’t sound half bad), when he appears with a bowl of my carefully hoarded mac and cheese with steamed broccoli only slightly overdone. Heaven.

I was able to inhale eat my dinner and take the motrin to kill the ache in my mouth. I am now much better company for the evening. Except he’s now gone off to do his run, leaving me to ruminate about events of my day.

One of my oldest friends is in the midst of a nuclear divorce and a fight with breast cancer. We have spoken little since she last reached out to us, because what she wanted was not help through her surgery or emotional support or even hand-holding comfort. First and foremost she had vengeance on her mind, toward her soon-to-be-former husband and the fledgling new life he was starting to create. M and I had to refuse, and her resulting meltdown and angry tirade pushed past my very patient husband’s outer limit for tolerance. We had to walk away. Since then we have heard little of her from any of our other friends, and her children and former spouse are unable to communicate with her in a rational manner. Even her mother, our only point of contact at this juncture, knows very little of what condition her daughter is in, other than her emotional state is “shattered and crazy.” But as near as we can all tell the surgery was successful and the radiation and chemotherapy are ensuing. The divorce is also proceeding, over her best efforts to get it stopped or at least slowed, although the property settlement is ongoing. It’s an ugly, stressful time for all concerned.

I was thinking about her today, because I miss my friend. I have been reading various blogs on affairs for months in search of some insight or understanding that could help me be a better, more supportive friend. Unfortunately I found little help there, other than the intensity of feelings from a lot hurting from broken marriages. Part of me wants to reach out, but I am extraordinarily wary. It is much like approaching a feral cat: you know you are likely to get snarled at and likely scratched trying to handle them, but hopefully not bitten by something rabid. I could call. I could text. I could email. All are likely to unleash a tirade of unpleasantness. Maybe a card in the mail?

In my own mind we have done backbends trying to accommodate her anger and pain. I do not think there is any timetable for getting over such an event, nor are we folks who might suggest she snap out it and move on with her life. We are believers in counseling and therapy, because supportive friends are no substitute for mental health professionals for those in crisis. Any suggestion of that sort of help was met with ridicule, as if they would be unable to understand what she is going through and how deeply maimed she has been at the hand of her husband.

Tonight I find myself torn between wanting to reach out to my friend and wanting to enjoy the ebb and flow of the quiet life we are enjoying at this moment. M feels we should give it another few weeks, to see if she comes to a crossroads and reaches out to us, and if not, it would be expected we would contact her about the holidays. I am undecided and on the fence. Her anger is fierce and unfettered, but she ripped the gloves from my hands in our last conversation. Should that volcanic rage erupt and be directed at me in a personal form I am capable of defending myself without being handicapped by compassion and affection for her. In her rages she is but a bare shadow of the woman I know and love. But I do not want to go THERE, do not want to see that woman. I want to see how my friend is, if there is anything she needs. I want to be her friend, not the target for her venom.

M is usually right about these things, so I think I will leave it for now. Besides, M made me dinner. He should benefit from my improved mood and less pained existence this evening.

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