Recently, I had a friend show me a picture she had taken with some of her childhood lady friends. They were all smiling; happy to be together. It was a wonderful picture of my girlfriend and it’s not often that you see people still friends as far back as elementary school.
“Yes, it was wonderful. Too bad we had to reconnect over something so sad.”
There was a missing friend.
No husband, no children. Living alone. Fixed income. Lonely, lonely holidays. Tired, so tired of the way people treated her, or ignored her, or misunderstood her. Even a ride to church wasn’t freely given by a fellow parishioner, but God was important to her so she paid for the ride.
She had enough, and she ended it.
How many of us know a friend like this, or someone in our own family? How many of us promised “we’ll get together soon” but got too busy to cement that visit? It makes you think. That’ll never happen to anyone I know. I’m the best daughter because I sent an email a week ago. I’m a really good friend because I took time out to call him months ago. Wow yeah, that was months ago.
I cried with my friend. Not just for her loss but I think we would all go through the “what if I had done this” or “if only I had done that” thing. She thinks about the holidays and the times she spent doing not much. She thinks about how she could have driven her to church, or sent her money, or brought her food. I would be doing the same thing. Doing that serves no purpose other than to wake us up.
Every day in my job, I am not treated very nicely most days by people on my phone. They yell at me, they curse at me and they personally attack me. This used to really get to me, and I would take my work home with me. One day, I had a man on my line who was talking to me the way no man should ever speak to a woman. I let him yell, and yell, and yell. Finally, I said wow, I am so sorry. You must have many other things happening in your life that are challenging. There can be no other explanation for such anger over something that I can fix for you so easily. I am going to keep you in my thoughts and hope that whatever you are dealing with turns around quickly and you can start feeling some peace again.
I heard silence.
Then I heard tears. This lead to apologies to me, and sharing of a story.
Everyone has a story. It’s very rare to meet a person who screams just to scream. Who cries for no reason. Who says they have had enough. Hearing my friend share her story reminds me that my smile may be the only one someone sees all day, that it doesn’t take that much more effort to include someone in my plans, that everyone is fighting their own battle, and that we are all in this together and we really can’t make it all alone.
That’ll never happen.
It did, and it can. Do something.