I ran into a couple of old friends the other day. (Ok not old as in aged. Two of them are older than me but are among some of the most youthful and vibrant people I’ve ever known.)
One was a married couple I hadn’t seen in over 2 years—since the day I came out to the husband.
A few weeks ago, after lamenting here and there about some of my hurt, I finally summoned up the courage—after a couple conversations with one of their daughters and with grace—and contacted them. The wife replied and added to her email
We miss you too, Todd, and we’ll never stop loving you.
GOSH THAT WAS SO GOOD TO HEAR. Ice broken. With her at least.
So fast-forward to Monday: I’m trying to get the folks at the Apple store to fix #2’s broken iPod. Dejected, I’m perusing iPhones on my way out and actually walked right past them, completely oblivious that they were sharing the same retail space. In fact, he was the one who purposefully sought me out after I walked by. The point is: they could have easily ignored me and the opportunity. But they did not.
It was so wonderful seeing them, catching up, hearing about their lives and the lives of their children and her dad. You see, the casualty of this relationship was among the worst things to have happened when I came out. Their family was our family; Grace and I still mourn the loss of what we had with them, of what my journey cost us all.
There’s obviously still a lot of pain there, on both sides. But when we met the other day, they were both so kind and listened intently and shared enthusiastically. (To an extent, I did feel “studied” by him, but not in an ugly way. It was as if he were trying to gauge my thots, whether I was happy or expressed regret—I dunno. Just a feeling I got.)
In a sense, it was as if these two years of estrangement hadn’t happened. They were so kind, so exactly the same people I always knew and loved. They smiled the same. Laughed the same. Shared the same. Inquired the same. Listened the same. And hugged the same.
Not that I expected them to really be any other way.
I always knew, despite the separation, that they—and their brood—cared (and care) about me and my family. It was just good to feel it again.
I know, too, that things will never be the same again. But I’ll gladly take what I get and be thankful for it.
Then, not ten minutes later, happenstance led me to run into another old friend—the big sister of a blog lurker/sometimes commenter—in the parking lot. She immediately greeted me with hugs, smiles, and inquiries about the boys. And with a brief comment about her own life experience, she also provided me with a great deal of encouragement dealing with an occasionally wayward child by reminding me that they often find their way back. [I even got to say hi to the sister she was on the phone with when we saw each other!]
What’s the point of all this? I dunno…I guess I finally grasped that people are able to dispense grace [and forgiveness?] at their own pace and it’s wrong of me to assume that they’re ungraceful/unforgiving/unloving [not that I did necessarily] just because of distance and separation and silence. (Perhaps they’ve thought the same about me?)
And that just because people don’t necessarily agree with each others’ decisions—which goes both ways—love, the real God-kind, can still exist between them.
And for that, I consider myself reminded, corrected, and thankful.