Monday, June 18, 2012

An Unlikely Friendship

                About a week ago, I learned that my friend from my old church had started receiving hospice care.  I had known since I met him that his health was not good, and I saw some of the struggles he had over the 2 or 3 years I saw him regularly at church.  I heard tonight that he passed away, peacefully, today at home.  I know he was ready, and I know this is what he wanted, but as is so often the case, the people left here are hurting.  Or, at least, I know that I am.  My heart hurts, and there are tears falling--again.  I can't help it.  They just keep falling. 

                This friend of mine was significantly older than me - old enough to be my grandfather, actually - but he was just one of those people that I got that feeling about.  There are several of you (you, who read this blog, even) I have felt this way about, and it's difficult to describe.  It's a feeling of "I need to get to know you.  I don't know if I'm supposed to know you, or if you're supposed to know me, or if we're supposed to know each other, but this is supposed to happen."  I rarely tell people about this feeling, but at this point, I trust it.  It never, ever leads me astray.  Lucky for me, he got the same feeling, and we were able to share this with one another.  In fact, we shared quite a lot with one another--not only did he read my blog, but I also read his, and we shared letters--long, long letters -- with one another over a span of more than a year.  I just searched my inbox with his name, and I don't even know how many letters there are.  I can't read them right now.  I will.  And I'm saving them, for sure.  But I'll read them later.

                I do remember, though, an exchange in some of our emails in which he stated, "I think I would like to adopt you, okay?"  I was going through an incredibly difficult time, and was feeling not only alone, but entirely unlovable.  "I am 100% okay with being adopted by you," I responded.  "Consider yourself adopted," he wrote.  And I did.  I was.  I know for a fact that he treated everyone this way--his love seemed boundless--but he also made me feel important.  And loved.  And worthy.  I could be honest, too, in those letters.  He was a man with a story (which he was telling, here, and you should read), and we shared a deep belief in the importance and value of storying our lives.  I listened.  He listened.  We shouldn't have had anything in common, and we knew it.  And yet, I have an inbox full of letters.  Sometimes, you just love anyway. 

                He commented on my Facebook page with such regularity, I actually had a friend ask me, "who is this old dude who comments on everything you say?" 

                "He's a friend of mine," I said, laughing.  "He's fantastic."

                "He's not a creeper?"

                "Thanks for looking out for me," I said, "but no worries here.  Not a creeper at all."

                Hugs were the other thing we shared.  I gave him big, long hugs because...well just because.  Because he told me hugs were special, and not something to be taken lightly.  Because he loved them.  Because he needed them.  And deserved them.  Because I needed them.  Because, when I looked into his eyes, I saw things I have never seen in anyone else's that made it so I just wanted to hug him.  A big, long hug.  Because when I gave him a hug after church, he would write me a thank you e-mail.  Because I loved getting e-mails.

                After I passed my dissertation defense, I went to an event at church.  I was on the phone with my sister in the parking lot prior to walking in to the building, and he came over to me, so excited to give me a congratulatory hug that he completely missed the fact that I was on the phone and hugged me such that I very nearly dropped the phone.  It's an amazing thing to have someone that honestly and genuinely excited for you.  (I got an email after that asking me to apologize to my sister for interrupting the phone call.  I never apologized and told him so.  The hug was worth it).

To my friend: thank you.  Thank you for reminding me of what was good and beautiful in me at a time when I could not see it myself.  Thank you for letting me be there for you, as young and immature as I am, and for reminding me that I have something to offer.  Thank you for trusting me, and for "adopting" me, and for sharing your soul.  I consider myself to be so incredibly blessed.

My friend sent me this song (which I downloaded onto my ipod soon after) when I was going through a particularly difficult patch of time.  There were days this song was on repeat in my head all day.  In our emails, we talked a good deal about Buddhism, and mindfulness, and acceptance, and living in the moment.  (Warning: even if you did not know him, this song will likely make you cry.  At least, that's what it has always done to me).

Monday, June 11, 2012


Do you ever have moments or days when you feel like the universe might, actually, be stacking the smaller events of your day for a reason?  I don't believe that things happen for a reason, and I don't believe in fate or some sort of pre-determined destiny...but sometimes, the little things are just stacked in ways that make you go "hrmph."

So get this.  Story 1.  Yesterday, my sister and I tried to go to the lake-over-the-mountain to go swimming.  It's a small lake with a small beach, but it's a place to go and swim and the water isn't generally too gross.  It's about a 30 minute drive from my parents house, and by the time we got there, the park was closed because it was full.  We were bummed, naturally, and even a Slurpee from 7-11 didn't help.  (Slurpees are gross, actually.  Neither of us had ever had one, somebody was singing the praises of Slurpees to my sister the other day, the AC in my car doesn't work, and we were bummed out, so we were looking for an adventure...but for the record, Slurpees weren't quite what we were looking for).  At any rate, we took a walk downtown and went back home.  Oh well.
Today, my client shows up for session and both she and her mother are totally sunburned.  "It looks like you had a fun weekend outside," I said.
"Oh yes," said mom, "we spent all day yesterday at the park.  We went to the lake-over-the-mountain and spent all day at the little beach swimming."
Hrmph, thought I.  That would have been awkward.  Small beach.  Small lake.  Talkative client family of 6.  My sister and I.  It's probably a really good thing we got Slurpees instead.
Story 2.  I was running late getting out the door and getting to work this morning.  I actually woke up early, but then Summer the dog who lives down hill on the next road over was in my backyard for the 200th time, so I had to take Summer home and stick him back in his fence behind the house.  That set me back a bit, but I was still okay-ish time wise...until I got in the car and realized I was on E and absolutely HAD to stop for gas if I hoped to make it in to work at all.  The gas station near my house is tiny, and all the pumps were full, so I had to sit and wait for the huge ass pick-up truck with the confederate flag bumper sticker that was taking up 2 pump spots to pump, pay, buy coffee, mosey back to his truck, and drive away.  He took his time.   If Summer put me back a little, Mr. Confederate Flag put me back a lot.  Then the highway was backed up, and I was just plain late.  However, there was still hope!  I would only be late if I did the whole drive past work to park in the sketchy lot and take the bus back to my building thing I do every day.  If I parked in the parking lot I'm not supposed to park in, but can get away with if I do it very occasionally, I would get there 10 minutes before my meeting.  I hadn't parked in the forbidden lot in about 3 months, so I  decided to go for it, and was shooed in by my friend the security guard ("Here you go, hon," she says, handing me a parking pass.  "I ain't seen you in a while.  You go on in.  Have a good one").  Hooray for 10 minutes early!
About 20 minutes before I leave work, my colleague says, "why does it smell like smoke?"  I sniff and, indeed, it smells like something burning.  We walk out of the office--it smells like smoke out there, too.  We look out the front doors and it looks smoky.  2 minutes later, we have an email informing us that there was a 5-alarm fire with 130 firefighters working on it.  My friend, Erudite, and I leave the office.  Where we usually go out two separate doors, because I had parked at the close-but-forbidden lot, we left together.  We walked a ways, talking about the smoke and the fire while he looked up more information on his SmartPhone.  We parted ways as we neared the bus stop, but then he called me again.  "Hey...the bus is going to take forever because all the streets are closed.  Can you drive me home?"
"Totally," I said.
"It's not too out of your way?" he asked.
It is, but I didn't really care.  "Nah," I said.  "Let's go."  We walked up to my car and took a back way around all the traffic and smoke to his house.  Funny thing was, I was then able to completely avoid all traffic and closed roads because I got on the highway in a completely different location.
Hrmph.  Maybe Summer and Mr. Confederate Flag were in my life for a reason this morning? 
Do you pay attention to things like this?  Do these things happen to you?  What sort of attributions do you make for things like this?  Luck?  Fate?  The Universe unfolding as it should?  (And why, then, at other times, does every possible thing seem to go wrong, such that it would seem it all led to you needing to sit in traffic, or sit on a small beach with a talkative client?)