I’m opening drawers in the room where I let the words flow. They’ve been closed for so long. As papers came into the light, memories from a decade, sometimes more, began to speak — raining down images of sickness, old friends lost, families growing, and plans never honored.

When I’m waiting for my computer to wake up or the laundry to dry, I take more out and divide what I find into recycling, garbage, those worth keeping, and what no one else should see. It was left there when I was too lazy, overwhelmed, or sick to put it where it belonged. Actions that needed to be taken, weren’t. In time, I forgot they were there.

As the drawers empty, I’m lightened. As the piles grow, I’m empowered. It isn’t too late. This is a time better suited to addressing what happened years ago. The sting, the stress, the pain has gone — somehow evaporated, released, and no longer important or vital. Shoving emotions, memories, and responsibilities into a dark place, out of sight and ignored, doesn’t solve the problems … but sometimes it softens them. So it’s OK. Or maybe I’m learning how to forgive myself and others.

I found a song I wrote about a broken friendship. At first, I didn’t remember who it was about. I thought it was recounting a first love with lasting sorrow. Ah, yes, I remember feeling lost and confused and hopeless. But as I continued to read, it became clear this wasn’t about a love lost between a man and a woman. It was about a decades-long friendship that crashed in flames, leaving both our families scarred and unsure how to go forward without each other.

We were shredded. The facts were jumbled by hurt feelings, betrayal, and pride. Trying to reassemble the strips of words spoken and make sense of it all is too difficult to achieve.

The song’s chorus, repeated in bold letters, tried to explain the ongoing mystery. “There’s six sides to every story/Walls, ceiling, and a floor/Your eyes see a truth/I don’t know anymore.”

The idea for six sides to a story fell into my mind like a snowflake. Often, that’s how my ideas arrive. The concept was unique. Something I’d never heard before. It helped explain how two people can have completely different versions of a shared experience. It’s not just her account and mine. It’s every person involved, and often with time, our versions change too.

How I remember our disintegration falls through filters created by circumstances like health, both mental and physical, other opinions and actions, and how mended my heart has become. The scar tissue from our ending left an unfamiliar surface. In some ways, it’s stronger than the original flesh, in other ways it remains tender when touched. That lasting legacy of pain and toughness, combined with a building up of the scarring, alters my story once again.

We were friends. Now we’re not. Our daughters were friends. Now they’re not. Our connection was severed; now it is finding new pathways. Maybe not all the stories have been told yet? Time’s teaching has allowed me to know, healing happens on a schedule I can’t control. And yet, as I continue to look at the past and discard what’s no longer necessary and retain what’s still valuable, there’s a sense of hope and deepened resiliency.

There’s still more to be sifted through and sorted before memories take their last journey. The layers of words and images no longer repel, but welcome me in to remember time’s past and the stories held there.

When the drawers are empty, I’ll fill them with memories, ideas not yet ready for birth, and yes, probably a few things I’m unable to face just now. That’s OK. The song is now filed away in a place I can visit.

I won’t forget our time together. I can cherish the wondrous times we spent raising our daughters and sharing adventures. There were good times and blessings to be appreciated; even with the hurt and harshness of a friendship lost.