Small squabbles had caused a bitter rift with a close neighbor. Could she find the resolve to reach out to her former friend?
Posted in , Aug 25, 2020
I prided myself on being a good neighbor. My husband, Charles, and I knew everyone who lived along our rural road. Walking that road now, I thought about how we all relied on each other. We picked up mail for people on vacation, lent out tools, watched each other’s children. Each house I passed held a friendly association.
It hadn’t always been this way. At one time, Kelly and I had had a good relationship. Our children were close in age and often played together. Our husbands were buddies. I never went by her house without waving or stopping to chat if I saw her outside.
Not anymore. If Kelly was out in her yard when I walked or drove by, I acted as if I didn’t see her. As if there were a big wall between us. At first it felt satisfying to let Kelly know what I thought of her. Today the sight of her house just made me sad.
How did things go wrong? It had all started with a cat. A stray who turned up in my driveway. That wasn’t unusual. I already had two stray cats I’d adopted as well as a dog. But this cat was aggressive. He drove my own cats away from their food bowls on the porch and hissed at me when I tried to shoo him off.
Imagine my surprise a few days later when Kelly announced she was taking in the cat. “I think he’s sweet,” she said.
I didn’t even know that Kelly liked cats. She’d never had one before as far as I knew. Living with Kelly didn’t make the cat any friendlier. He constantly showed up on our porch, stealing our cats’ food and picking fights. “That cat’s out of control,” I said to Kelly angrily over the phone one day. “I’ve about had it.”
“He’s always perfectly sweet with us!” Kelly said, getting defensive. “I had no idea you disliked him so much.”
That was the first brick in the wall between us. Things just got worse from there. We never talked about that phone call, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Maybe I could have been more diplomatic about that cat, but Kelly should have been more sorry. If anyone was going to apologize, it should be her! The tension grew until one night I got my own angry phone call. After midnight!
“Hello?” I said, half-asleep.
“Your dog has been barking all night!” Kelly said. “He woke us up. Please keep him quiet!”
“What?” I said. “My dog isn’t barking.”
“Just keep him quiet,” she said and hung up.
“Who was that?” Charles muttered. “What time is it?”
“It’s the middle of the night,” I said. “But Kelly thought it was a good time to accuse our dog of waking her up. Do you hear him barking?”
“No,” Charles said, already falling back asleep.
That’s it, I thought. I’m never speaking to Kelly again.
And I hadn’t. Not in months. And I felt pretty miserable about it. Not to mention petty. What must God think of all this? Some good neighbor I am, I thought, drawing closer to Kelly’s house. It hurt my heart and my spirit to admit it.
This time, as I walked by Kelly’s house, my feet slowed, almost involuntarily. I allowed myself to turn toward it. Just as I did, I saw Kelly come out to her driveway. For a second, we just stared at each other. I wanted so much for this wall between us to come down. She looks just as miserable as I feel, I thought. I could sense God nudging me to do what was right. How I needed that nudge!
I swallowed hard and walked toward Kelly. I’ll ask her if we can start over, I thought. I’ll tell her how much I’ve missed her…how much our friendship means to me.
Words weren’t necessary. As soon as we got close enough, Kelly and I found ourselves opening our arms and hugging each other close. It was no coincidence that she’d stepped out onto her driveway at the very moment I was walking by. No coincidence at all that our friendship had been renewed.
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