Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What would YOU say?

What would YOU say?

Although I like to look back and share fond memories with friends and family, I’m not real big on living in the past. You can’t change things and you can drive yourself into fits of anxiety playing “What if?” A friend of mine once commented that “If is one of the biggest words in the world.” I find myself in no position to argue the point.

Earlier today I found myself thinking about a friend from high school. Really, for some odd reason I found myself missing her. We managed to grow quite close, close enough to start thinking “serious” thoughts about after high school. We didn’t make any great plans, just imagined the situation. I met her because we worked together and I really liked her because she had such a great sense of humor. (Admit it, if someone laughs at your jokes, you like them.) We dated some, and would hang out together. We learned some things together and we taught each other some things about life. Although, if I were to be truly honest, she taught me more about life than I ever taught her. Not the touchy-feely kind of things, but things that probably made me less of a social retard. (Some who know me now would argue that the lessons took hold, but just imagine what I was like then.)

Of course there was a physical attraction - we were living in a high school environment fraught with hormones and lust! But I am glad to say that we had something more than that. Intimacy in the true sense of the word, not just talking about lust and physicality.

We grew quite close and shared a lot of thoughts, wishes and dreams. I have to say that I grew to truly respect her opinions and values. She taught me more than she will ever know. At one particular point in my life, a turning point if you will, she helped me make a decision that was brutally hard. A decision that was hard in a way that I knew that things were changing in me. A door once passed through, would close behind me and thrust me into a new world, a world of unknown circumstances to me and, without trying to sound overly-dramatic, possibly cost me friends and family. I have her to thank for talking me through this decision, with no thought of what this decision might cost her one way or another.

She gave me a gift that day that I couldn’t hold or touch, I couldn’t really see or even feel it, but know that it is there. I owe her a titanic debt of thanks and I doubt she knows to this day that this is how I feel.

All right, back to “What would YOU say?” Would you tell your friend thanks? Would that thanks ever be enough? Think back to when you were 16 years old. Think of the person that you were then. Would THAT person tell their friend thanks? I wish I had.

I regret to this day not telling her even the most humble “thank you” for what she did.

Things change. One of my favorite aphorism is “Life happens.” It does. Life is what happens while you are planning it. It slips right on past you. Sometimes, it slaps you right upside the head. Been there, done that. Well, life “happened” to us. Within a few months, life happened enough that we went separate ways. Mostly gracefully, but occasionally with emotions bent and feelings hurt. One night I handled something poorly and childishly. It wasn’t a situation that called for the reaction I gave it. To put it bluntly I over-reacted and lost a friend that I wish I had had the luck to keep.

So much for not being a social retard.

We lived on. We grew up and, I’d like to think in my case, matured. She went on with her life and met and married the man that she deserves. She has lovely children and a wonderful husband; she has a family that loves her in word and actions. She looks happy and I literally, in the true sense of the words, pray to God that she is happy.

Our paths haven’t crossed much. Once by accident, a freakishly awkward moment where we both pretended to not see each other, and a second time when I tried to reach out and tell her thanks for what she did for me. It was at a time that I happened to have a particularly meaningful, spiritual awakening. Sort of a growing or learning development. However it started, whatever the cause, I wanted to tell her thanks and hopefully apologize for being who and what I was way back then. An attempt to atone for myself. I was scared. I’ve been on the wrong end of guns and knives, I’ve found myself in places where it was fight or flight more than I want to think, with flight not much of an option. That happens sometimes with the type of jobs I’ve had and the locales I’ve been to. This was worse. Worse by far.

Disaster? Not even close. Apocalypse? Getting warmer…

Apparently, my efforts were less than well received. After a short, terse telephone conversation, we disconnected with no misunderstanding whatsoever how she felt about me. I don’t blame her, not the tiniest bit. Not one iota. This is totally my own fault and maybe if I had made a more timely effort it would have been better received. I don’t know. By the time I did make the effort, I had moved several times, to other states and back, and she had moved on herself. Emotionally and physically. I regret that by the time I did try, it was too late and caused her grief. That was never my intention.

Would I try to tell her again? Most assuredly yes! However, it’s her turn to make contact. Could I find her? With the knowledge I have now, and with the resources at my beck and call, yes I could find her within minutes. Could she find me? I think so. I’m not hiding and I think that I’ve left enough tracks for anybody that wanted to find me to do so.

I don’t expect her to reach out; I doubt there will ever be the bond of friendship between us. I don’t expect her to even think about me at this point. Although, if she and I were to sit down and compare coincidences in our lives, there are too many to disregard. She won’t call or write, and I will be the poorer man for that.

Given the chance, I would tell her thank you. Most graciously, and heartfelt, thank you. Literally from the depths of my heart. You gave me something I cherish and treasure, and you helped me be a better person. Most of the people I deal with today benefit because of the things you gave me. Please accept my gratitude and my respect, and know that I miss you. What can I say, I worry.


  1. Chuck, that is so beautiful! I am sorry for how things ended up with you and your friend, that must be difficult to think about. I hope that you get the chance to thank her one day, and that she will be receptive to you. Thank you for sharing!

    Janell B. Raber

  2. Thanks, Janell. I know that it is very unlikely that she will read this, or that I will get the chance to thank her, but I still wish I had the chance. We all see things we'd like to fix in hindsight, things that we'd rather have done differently, but this is, I believe, the closest I will get on this one.

  3. WOW... this is a very interesting story.. you should write a book, I love how you write! Sometimes it is important to be objective... Don't be too hard on yourself!

  4. I don't usually play "If" but I've often wondered how life would have been different. I certainly don't wish away anything that I've got, just curious more than anything.