Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fixing What Was Broken

A year or so ago, Facebook reconnected me with a friend I'd been close with during the high school years.  We did some brief messaging, and admired photographs, and talked about getting together.  I was interested to meet up with her; at the same time, I was a little nervous about it.  So I didn't come up with a concrete proposal and the months went by.  Then she suggested lunch at a place in Flemington, about an hour from each of our homes.

Of course, the drive up was filled with memories.  I had been a high school dork, immature, silly, insecure, uncertain; she was a year older, smart, not afraid to be who she was, and on the elegant side. She had an eye that didn't work and was passionate about music. I didn't know why she wanted to be friends with me, but I was glad that she did.  Her family life was different from most:  Instead of a pair of parents and a sibling or two or three, she lived alone with her father.  Her mother had walked out on them a couple of years before I met her.

I thought about that as I drove up through Hatboro, and how at fifteen I had found it interesting and curious and unusual, but nothing more.  It never occurred to this self-focused teen to wonder about feelings of rejection, unwantedness, abandonment.  By the time I reached New Hope, I was thinking about what I knew of my friend:  She'd written on Facebook last winter of losing her father; I knew she had also lost her husband many years ago.  So I was going off to reconnect with an orphaned, widowed, childless only child.  And in Lambertville, I wondered what kind of a person I was meeting, what kind of impact all that loss would have.

The woman I met in Flemington was a delight.  I would have known her right away.  Looking younger than her 67 years, she still had that gleam in her [good] eye and warm, engaging smile.  The conversation was easy, with a back-and-forth, give-and-take telling of life stories.  Neither of us had that unpleasant eagerness for the other person to stop talking so it could be our own turn.  We listened and shared and understood and affirmed.

She shared an epiphany she'd had after her husband had passed away:  She had thought back to her high school years and had seen herself as uninvolved, unathletic, unpopular, a dorky follower (her?  dorky?  my early-elegant friend?) and decided to fix what was broken.  She became involved in all kinds of things:  a professional women's organization, the library board, a needlework group, and even took up horseback riding.

She spoke, too, about the experience of being abandoned by her mother, giving details I'd never known nor thought to ask about.  She shared her feelings of anger, abandonment, incredulousness, bewilderment.  And gave me the opportunity to listen, to affirm, to reflect and to empathize.  Giving me, as well, a chance to fix what was broken.

After more than forty years, to find that a friendship between children can be rebirthed as a friendship between women -- it was an amazing gift.  A day that was lovely in so many ways.

13 comments:

*karendianne. said...

Thank you for sharing something so intimate and beautiful. You both are blessed.

Janet O. said...

This is so insightful! Many people will be blessed to read this. You write about things that really matter and you do it so well. Thank you!

Pat said...

Absolutely beautiful post. How wonderful to reconnect after all these years, without the baggage of immaturity. You have a gift for making us think, for helping us see, and for teaching. The ripples your posts create are both a blessing and a wonder. You give hope to the dork in all of us!!!

Barb said...

Truly a heart warming read, and thank you for sharing! As I read your blog post, I continued to think you give a *good* reason for being on facebook, the thought to join has been in the back of my mind, if only I could have your kind of result! Have a wonderful weekend!

Guenveur in Kent said...

Amazing how we see others when we're so young and unsure ourselves, convinced that they have it all and we don't and nvere will. I tried to get taht across to my own children, but they can't hear that and your mother has to think you're great because she's your mother. Glad you could open up with each other.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Facebook came to me as a gift from my sister who died ten hours after becoming my first “friend” there. I had spent that time looking at pictures of her missionary family in Moscow for the last fifteen years and was devastated when brother phoned to say she had been taken out by an as yet unfound pulmonary embolism. In the intervening three years I have found several former school friends who have become precious to me-truly a life-changing experience being on FB.

Helen (Mimi, Meems, Meemers) said...

What a wonderful message. I think all of us have felt at least part of what you felt with your friend.

I'm truly glad you got the opportunity to meet with your friend and reconnect.

Hugs.

BJ in TX said...

Loved this post. I am happy that you were able to reconnect with your old friend in a much more meaningful way. It was meant to be!

pcflamingo said...

Wonderful, heartwarming story. Listening is indeed an underused, under appreciated skill. What a nice day of reconnection.

quiltmom said...

Nancy, One of your gifts is the gift of listening to others with empathy and caring. While I have not met you in person, I have no doubt that I would find you as kind and caring in person as I do when I read your posts. Your thoughtfulness and integrity permeates your posts. I am sure your friend found it a coming home kind of reconnection too.
Thanks for sharing,
Warmest regards,
Anna

MB in MI said...

thankyou for this wonderful post.

Margie said...

This sounds like a good plot for a novel. Such a great story.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

What a heart-warming and affirming gift; both given and received. I LOVE this~ it is pure grace.