My husband and I went away for two weeks and one of my friends, whom I also work with, volunteered to cat-sit for us. We live in a part of town that she likes and a pretty nice house, so she was excited about it and thought of it as a mini-vacation for herself. She was only able to stay at our house periodically though due to other responsibilities, which seemed fine since the cats wouldn't be alone for more than 3 days a time. I figured she should be able to handle it, particularly given that she has two children. I walked her through the house and showed her what her responsibilities were before hand and left written instructions in case she forgot anything. I also left a few presents for her kids on the bed so they would have something to play with and a nice souvenir. Obviously, it didn't work out as intended.
About 5 days in, I received a call from her late at night letting me know that she couldn't find the cats. While she didn't admit this right away, apparently she left the door open while she had been packing up the car two days previously and the cats got out. She said she had asked her elementary school age children to make sure the cats were still upstairs (hiding under the bed). Yes - she blamed it on her kids. Our cats are indoor/outdoor cats, so somewhat able to survive on their own. At this point though, they had been locked out of the house, away from their food and water for more than 48 hours. I had her put up the cat door (which we take down when we are out of town). She had to leave again the next morning so I had another friend come by, make sure the cats were safe, and remove the cat door so they would be kept inside for the rest of our trip. The cat-sitter went back and checked on them one more time. All in all, the cats were a little on the skinny side, but generally okay when we got home.
Throughout all of this, I went through a tumult of emotions - fear, worry, anger, frustration, guilt, and finally relief. I know for certain that had any permanent harm come to our cats, our friendship would have been over - not just because of the mistake she made, but because it was made out of negligence in addition to the way she handled it once she finally did admit what happened. I thought that with time I could get over it - and then there was more. A few days after arriving home, we discovered some drawings carved into our mahogany coffee table. It looked like her kids had been drawing on paper with hard writing implements. My husband is a bit of a handy man with caring for wood, but we soon discovered that the etching was so deep that the table will have to be sanded down and refinished to remove signs of damage.
Weeks later, I am still waiting to get the key back from the cat-sitter - she keeps misplacing it. I found out today that she doesn't have my key chain anymore, but thinks
she gave it to her kids because they wanted it; she thinks the key might be somewhere in her house. I haven't spoken to her at all about the table. I'm at a bit of a loss as what to do at this point. I continue to work with this woman and I haven't told her how angry and disappointed I am, in part because I don't see how that will make the situation any better. She's been through some hard financial times recently, so I'm pretty sure she's not going to pay for the table repair. I've tried to let all this go (although it's kind of hard since I have to keep asking her for the key) but I feel an immense amount of anger towards her, which seems to grow with each interaction. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to get past this. I wish I could feel like we could be friends again, but because of the way she treated my pets, my home, and the responsibilities I trusted her with, I don't know that it's possible and I don't know how to make that happen. My husband has pretty much written her off, and doesn't want to see her again or have her in our home. We've also agreed never to have a work friend help us out in this way again.
She's extremely well-networked at my company, and while I don't need to work with her on any kind of regular basis, I probably want to retain my working relationship with her at a minimum. I'm not good at and am uncomfortable being fake friends with someone - which is different from just being congenial with co-workers. We do have some friends in common as well and to avoid pulling them into this, I've excluded them from gatherings at our house so that she doesn't find out about it and wonder why she's not invited. I continue to wonder, should I confront her and let her know what happened and how I feel? Or should I continue to keep it from her and just let our friendship fade over time? Is letting go of our friendship the right thing to do or am I making too big a thing of this?
tldr; Co-worker/friend volunteered to cat-sit, did a shit job of it and damaged our furniture. Hasn't returned our key and is clueless that we are super mad. Is it wrong to stop being friends with her over this ? How do I maintain a good work relationship with her and stop being friends?