I can't pretend to know why my friend did what she did. It may or may not have had something to do with a challenge that confronted both of us.
The enterprises into which we invested twenty years of passion and energy no longer exist. We were both good at our work but technological progress is an irresistible force. Almost all of my former employers have been bankrupted. My old customer base, my friend's shop included, is similarly decimated. Residual financial rewards aside, most everything we worked for and everything we achieved in those two decades is gone.
I'm very fortunate to have a fulfilling personal and professional life today. Even so, there's a permanent hole in my past. Much of my self-identity has been erased.
It's an empty feeling.