You just call out my name,
And you know where ever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby
To see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You’ve got a friend.
Now, I am not so quick to utter those words. It seems “anything” carries a high price. Anything to them meant dropping a new job, going into debt and flying across the country to watch our mutual friend die. Our friend who'd spent two weeks with me here in North Carolina when we knew she'd not recover from this last brain operation. A friend who thanked me for the peace and beauty of being out here so near to the end. A friend who assured me "we" were okay.
But to the other friends, the ones who weren't here for that conversation, the ones who were there, in Arizona, caring for her in her last days as she slipped into a coma and died, I'd chosen the wrong path. The friendship (with the non-dying friends) – the friendships I thought were for life – or until one of us died, were irrevocably lost.
After the dying friend incident – I was unwilling to fully open up myself to that deep and mystical type of friendship again. You know – the type where you really DO tell the other person “everything”. I made one exception to the rule between leaving Arizona and Chelle dying.
It was a friendship that started out as mutual attraction. Except we were both new hires at the same place, and I wasn’t interested in dating someone within the company. In the beginning, I thought he was self-important. He thought I was aloof. Every time he came to my office, he’d take time to talk to me and try to get past the barrier I erected. Through his persistence, we found out we had many mutual interests and values. His interest in me was so clear, co-workers began to comment on it. I blew it off and kept my distance.
But we kept talking – and eventually we settled into a friendship. The "tell you everything and anything" type I was trying to avoid. The type of friendship where I adopted him into “my” family. He’s my “little brother”. Partly because he and my real big brother share the same first name. Partly because our last names start with the same letter – but mostly because our interests are very similar. Plus, it allowed me to express the closeness I felt without stepping over the line.
A year or so into this friendship, he met a girl. A wonderful girl. She seemed to fit him perfectly. I loved him so much, that is all I wanted for him. A person who “got him”. Who appreciated his integrity, his honesty, and his ability to communicate (something not always found in men). Someone who understood he was a man who loved the outdoors – and was reverent each time he went out into it - and shared that love and awe with him.
Time passed, I moved to North Carolina. I received a wedding announcement, and flew home. It was a perfect wedding for them. Up in the mountains at an Elks lodge. The guys wore camouflaged vests and cummerbunds, she wore a "damsel" wedding dress. A great Elk looked down on the ceremony.
Each time I go home to California, I spend a night with them. We sit around, eat, drink, talk and laugh, and I think to myself, “See Mit. Some people do get married for the right reasons and to the right people.”
About a month ago I got several calls from him – spread out over a week or so. Calls I missed. I didn’t worry about it too much. That’s the nature of traveling and long distance friendships. But in the second week, I decided I better see what was up.
His company, my old employer was going through a merger battle. Two companies were trying to buy them. It was unclear who’d end up with the company. The future was also unclear for the employees. Depending which company became the new owner, it would be either good news for the US division and bad news for the Australian group, or visa versa. I figured that was his news.
Oh how I wish that was the news he shared with me. Instead, he told me his marriage was ending. His voice was very matter of fact. There weren’t many details. The whole time he was talking, my stomach was in knots. How could this be? What was going on? How long had it been going on?
“I don’t know Mit, I’m trying to figure it out myself.”
“I love her. I want this to work out. I offered for us to get counseling, she says there’s nothing to be counseled about.”
I suggested he give her some time and room. Something it was easy for him to do, as he was traveling to Georgia and Tennessee for business.
He called me today. To make sure I’d gotten home from my own business trip safely – and tell me about his travels. While he’d been gone traveling they'd been talking every night, he’d thought they’d reached a turning point. A turning point toward recovery. Until he came home – and she told him they should move forward with the divorce. As far as she was concerned, there was nothing to salvage in the relationship. This news was completely different than the phone conversations while he was out on the road.
I sit here stunned. I hear so much pain in his voice. It was even worse when he began to describe the physical manifestations of his pain – to hear him acknowledge how much he’s hurting and loving and suffering all at the same time. I feel so helpless. I cannot do anything. I have no words of wisdom to offer. I cannot offer shelter, a meal, a night out drinking, or even a physical shoulder to cry on.
I want to say, “I’ll do anything to take this pain away”, but I know from past experience “anything” carries a price tag I cannot afford.
I H .A .T .E feeling this helpless and ineffective. I want it to just be a ‘boo-boo’. A boo-boo I can kiss and make the pain go away. I boo-boo I can mitigate.
Now he’s questioning who he is – and what type of person he is. I know who he is, I know the truth of his being. But it doesn’t matter what I know. All that matters is what he feels – and how he judges himself. We all know we’re our own worst judge and jury. I want him to be in a different courtroom. A courtroom where I can testify – and he’ll see himself the way I do.
Instead, I’ll just write these words, listen on the other end of the phone, and be glad God arranged for my trip to California. We’ll have dinner together Thursday night. I know it won’t stop the ever present pain that runs through every minute of his waking hours. I know it won’t change what he’s going through. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll see in my eyes the truth. That he’s a wonderful man – it’s not ALL his fault, and he still has a lot to offer someone in the future.
I guess that’s the thing that makes me the most mad and scared. Scared to the tips of my toes. Scared that he’s going to cut himself off. Build those walls, keep his distance, take no more risks. It’s fine for me to sit here safe and sound, but it’s not the life I’d want for him.
Life sucks – especially when you can’t do “anything”.