February 25, 2016 by acontraryspirit
This past weekend was a bit of a jolt to the system. That’s how my step-mom described it when I spoke with her.
The younger brother of a friend I grew up with died unexpectedly in an accident with his wife. They were just barely entering their twenties and had only been married for 6 months. That in itself was devastating. The news left me frozen. If it had been any other friend, I might have thought to immediately pick up the phone, leave a message with no requirement of a return call and keep up with the details to ensure I knew when services were.
With this friend, I didn’t know if she would want me to call her or if she would want to see me at such a time. So I called our third, the one of the three of us I was in better touch with. Turns out she needed the support too so my call was a welcome one. You see, our mutual friend, the one that lost her brother, still remains extremely close with one of us, the friend I called. With me, not so much. But that is by choice now, on both our sides.
In 2014, when I got married, I invited both of these friends to my wedding, and their families. Although we weren’t super close, we still kept in touch and I had attended both of theirs weddings and a baby shower. Long story short, one of them did not come because she could not support my marriage to another woman. To avoid restating myself, you can read more about this and see where this story last ended up, in my Christmas Eve post from 2014, ‘Some Truth.’ To make it short, she still wanted to be my friend, and several months later, I word vomited my whole coming out story to explain to her that I could not find a way to pursue a friendship with her knowing she did not support my wife and the family we were building. And that was the last exchange between us, the last thing I wrote to her.
And then our little brother died, tragically, a little over a year later.
I thought I had closed the book and she had in turn done the same, likely not quite knowing how to respond to my wordiness.
But as seems to be the case with tragedy, this reopened it.
Sunday was rainy, during the hour and a half drive down. I arrived just in time to hug her mother, who, thankful to see me wrapped her arms tight around me and cried while I held her for a few moments before the service started. Afterward, I waited for the family to have some time and then looked for her, for my friend. A mutual childhood friend helped me find her and her husband. I went over and it was like hugging her mother all over again. She was thankful to see me. She grabbed me tight around the neck and hugged me and we just were. The rest of the reception we just were, with our other friends from those younger years. We made sure she had food to eat, company away from the crowds.
And when I went to say good bye, she took my hands and looked at me and said that she had so much she wanted to say to me. My mind went straight to the card I had found and brought to her which was in a basket somewhere waiting to be opened at a later date. It too said that there was so much that could be said but that I only wanted her to know I cared and that I hoped she found peace.
In that moment I told her I knew what she meant. I told her that it didn’t matter right now. That I’m here and I love her and her family and that’s it. We held each other again and I headed to the car to head home.
Wounds are painful. Sometimes they stick with you for a long time. But without them, I’m afraid that we would not be drawn into community with one another. Without our wounds, I don’t think we would have a need for or a capacity to love.
My heart aches after Sunday, but it is full.