I decided to write a few specific memories to do with my BFFs, the main long term ones are Svea, Maja, and Dane. All three are featured pretty prominently in the book, but so far I have only really written about Svea on this blog. To give some basic background about Dane before I start a series on him, for those of you who have not read my book: Dane and I were BFFs for a few years before the shit went down with David. Dane and David were also friends – Dane was the one who introduced David to me in the first place. They were good friends and also colleagues. When the crazy came out of David, Dane and I got into a HUGE fight. Dane took David’s side and subsequently he and I stopped talking for no less than two years. Pretty much whenever I talk about memories to do with him, they are classified as “Before the fight” or “After the fight.” This memory is from after the fight:
It was my birthday, so Dane invited me over – his present to me was that he was going to grill me some steaks. He knew I appreciated his grillmaster skills, and let’s be honest – he had no idea what else to offer up to a female in the way of gifts.
I brought along one of my newer BFFs – Nikki – because I wanted two of my good friends to meet. Shortly after we got there, Nikki pulled me aside. “You didn’t tell me he was an officer,” she hissed. “My husband is enlisted – I don’t think this is allowed. Enlisted aren’t supposed to socialize with Officers.”
“Oh, shit. Sorry – hadn’t thought about that,” I apologized. “But he’s not here, so it’s probably ok for you to be here as a one-off.”
She agreed to stay, even though she was uncomfortable with the idea.
I sat by Dane on the couch and Nikki sat on another chair. We settled in and got to chatting and doing the get to know yous and all of that. One of us asked Dane what he’d been up to lately.
“Oh, I’m exhausted,” he said. “I’ve been really busy with work and…”
He paused for a moment. He was resting his elbows on his knees and looking down at the ground. He turned his head up to face me.
“…and most evenings and weekends I’ve been talking my buddy’s wife down. He’s…” Dane cleared his throat. “He’s deployed again and he’s been treating her really badly.”
I could see what he was trying to communicate with me through his eyes. He was trying to say David has been treating his wife badly. David is out of hand. David is nuts …I understand now, Rae. I understand now.
I felt like my eyes got wide and I tried pleading with them. No, Dane. Not here. Not in front of Nikki. I’m not ready to talk about David yet.
Dane seemed to understand, and he didn’t say anything further on the subject. In fact, it took another two years or so for us to actually talk about David. For the first three years we were gaining our friendship back, step by step – but I couldn’t talk to Dane about our fight, therefore I couldn’t consider him a BFF. It took a full five years from the incident to actually bring it up.
When we did talk, Dane confirmed that he realized David was unstable. He confirmed that David had shown his crazy to his first wife – and apparently subsequently they divorced. Dane confirmed what I saw in his eyes those years ago. He understood, and he was sorry he doubted me.
In this conversation I had gotten to understand Dane’s side of the story too. I really wish we hadn’t have lost those two years. If we had just been calm and mature and talked with level heads in the first place – maybe we wouldn’t have lost that time in our friendship.
Over a year later, he started dating a girl who had divorced from another military man, the same rank as Dane. This man was also apparently a horrible person. This girl didn’t want to tell Dane out of fear he would feel camaraderie with this man that he had never met. She was afraid he’d take his side simply because of the rank and military connection. Dane emailed me out of the blue. He gave me another apology of sorts “She was worried that I would take his side – before you say anything, I was highly angry that my job got called, I wasn’t jumping on the David bandwagon. I know you didn’t call the unit… I guess I still have some guilt.”
He’s always been a man that values his career over his personal life. An admirable trait in some ways, if only I had been able to tell him my side of the story first. Maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t have lost all that time. We have fully made up now and our friendship has been going along nicely again ever since that conversation in May of 2013. But as you can see, old wounds and guilty feelings have lasted even longer – as evidenced by the aforementioned email that was from August 2014.
Dane told me awhile back – sometime last year – that in 2008 when he deployed to Iraq (which was within weeks of our fight) that he was sure he was going over there to “meet a bullet.” He hadn’t confided that to me back then, because he was trying to justify some decisions to himself – and then obviously we were fighting. After he got back and had been back for awhile, he ended up in the ICU for some other issue. This is the catalyst that started our steps towards friendship again. I heard the news and I had sudden fear where there had been indifference. I had hated Dane so much for the first few months, and slowly grew into the indifference. But I’ll admit right now – I would have had a complete breakdown if he really had met a bullet, or died in that ICU room.
I would urge anyone who has taken the time to read this and care about my story at all – don’t give up on the people that matter most to you. Fight for your friendships, don’t let so much time pass before you forgive – even if you can’t forget.