There is not enough salvation to go around…
A long time ago, I lost a friend.
Not because of an argument… he just dissapeared. Gone.
A long time ago, I lost another friend.
We treated each other badly, with a cruelty I can only look back on with wonder.
A long time ago, I treated somebody shamefully.
Someone who did not deserve it, someone who deserved better.
This spring, things have happened.
The person I treated badly offered me forgiveness. No strings, no conditions. Forgiveness. Grace.
A memory of shame so deep it made me wince every time I allowed the shadow of my behavior to slither to the front of my mind, gone- absolved. I met her at a party a friend was throwing, and realized that during all these years of guilt and recrimination, I had never sought her out to apologize.
Apologies have to be done a certain way in my world. No conditions, explainations or excuses. Just a flat out apology for the inappropriate behavior- and if the wronged party cares enough, they’ll ask about the details. That’s what I offered:
It’s been years, and you deserved better.
I have spent a long time grappling with the shame of how I behaved that evening. But seeing you made me acutely aware that I had never, ever done the most important thing. I’ve never forgotten- but I allowed time and distance to make it convenient for me to never face up to this.
You deserved far better from me.
I’m very, very sorry.
From this, I made a friend where once there was guilt and cancer.
An old friend and I parted on the worst of terms. The way we savaged each other over a long, long friendship was childish and brutal. The sorts of wrong you only do people you love. The sorts of things which make up regrets of the most lasting type. The kind that scars.
A coincidence brought my email to his attention. He sent me a letter- a mature, accountable, strong letter from the man he had become, which allowed me to understand that it was time for me to stop listening to the angry little boy who would not forgive or forget, because his anger made him feel justified, righteous- empowered as only the indignantly wronged could be.
I sent him this:
I’ve never been a “forgiving” sort (big shock there)- but in retrospect, I was a very different person then- and, I expect, so were you.
There are a few things I find hard to let go. Don’t get me wrong, I am painfully aware of what a bag of shit I was to you- someone I loved, someone that I still do love. Don’t think I only feel one way about this- it would not be so difficult if, despite it all, you were not one of the best friends I ever had. That I was unable to let go of, even when I wanted to.
Fuck. This really should not be so hard. After eight years, you’d think I’d either love you, hate you or forgotten you. Be much simpler.
Yeah. I’d like to try. At least, I’m willing to do the work to try. Someone recently forgave me for what I consider one of the worst things I ever did- a person who in no way deserved it.
No strings, no recriminations- just let it go. Apparently, the universe is smacking me upside the head with a honking big trout. (Magical Thinking, remember?)I suppose it’s time to just let it go.
A long time ago, a friend dissapeared.
He was exactly the sort of man you’d expect to dissapear. Secretive, complex, private.
He moved away- then vanished.
It’s been close to ten years.
The friend I made up with found him, and I wrote him, seeing if he wanted to put it all together again.
What I received back was very uniquely him. My friend, still. I sent him this:
It’s been a long time, and a longer road from where we were to where we are. Moving you out and bidding you goodbye in the rain was an unsatisfactory conclusion, and about the ill fated trip to Boston, the less said the better.
I have dreamed of you several times since then.
Once, when asked who you are, I found myself at a loss to explain. “He taught me about Shakespeare” was the best answer I felt I could give- You were a private man, and I have made it my business to keep your nature as shrouded as you might have done. Least I could do. A more insightful soul noticed the game, and asked a more pointed question:
“Who is he to YOU?”
The answer was:
“In many ways, he was the best of me.”
I declined further explaination.
I have always missed you.
Right now, my life is at the lowest ebb I can remember. I really thought that times this dark were behind me. But due to a series of catastrophic descisions and risks, it’s really pretty dark… not just for me, but for someone who depends on me. Someone else who deserves better. Someone else I’ve wronged.
But then I look at what just happened this spring.
I have no real right to complain. All my errors can be fixed- and look at the pocket miracles my life has given me.
There’s not enough salvation to go around… but I have gotten more than my share. If that does not keep me going, then I am not viewing my life wth the right degree of gratitude.