Heairng this news, I came to some hard realizations. I knew I had amends to make to this friend - not for anything really obvious, not for anything done on purpose, but for not letting her in the way I think she wanted me to. I didn't know how to be a good friend, twenty years ago, and maybe not even five years ago... but I believe I'm learning now.
So, I believe that is possibly part of the reason for the headache I had for over a week. It finally, completely dissolved today as I wrote her a long letter. I'm going to post the letter here... It has a story within it that I needed to share with my friend and that I think is worth sharing beyond our friendship.
I've left out and changed some names, but otherwise here it is in its entirety:
I put the letter inside a get-well card, and put it in her mailbox just a few minutes ago. I talked to my sponsor and my therapist about this today (finally). It's been so hard to know what to even ask to gain clarity about this. As I said, I haven't done anything overtly wrong, but I know I was not the friend I could have been. Now, at least I've given her the opportunity to open things up again if she wants to. I haven't talked to her in a couple of years... and she lives only about two blocks from me.I heard about your surgery, and I've been thinking of you. I hope you are at least comfortable now that you’re home. I know how hard it is not to overdo it… but it’s so important, so I want you to know that I’m here if you need anything.And, I also wanted to tell you a story which I’ve told countless times in the last twenty years… but it occurred to me that you might not know or remember this.[My son] will turn 21 tomorrow… but twenty years ago when he was a baby, he was very sick. He had bronchialitis, and that led to and also something else which no one could explain to me. Despite the antibiotics and other medications, he kept running a fever for months, and he wouldn’t eat anything without my forcing it down his throat.It started when he was ten months old and went on through his first birthday, through Christmas, and then it was New Year’s Eve and he was still sick. He was so skinny and listless... it was scary.You called me on that New Year’s Eve and invited me to come to your house for a get-together you were having New Year’s Day. You said you knew I hadn’t been out of the house for weeks, stuck as I was with a toddler and a sick baby, and you said, “Just bundle him up and come over for a while.”So I did. [My husband] must have been working that day because I don’t believe he was there, but I came with the two kids and [my son] just clung to me. He wanted to be carried all the time at that point.Father Cassidy was there. It was the first time I’d met him. He took one look at the baby and said, “Oh, the poor wee lad. What’s the matter with him?”(Doesn’t it make you smile a little just to think of him?)I told him I didn’t know what was wrong, that I’d done everything I knew to do – taken him to doctors and the emergency room twice and given him all kinds of medicines and stayed up all night with him when he wouldn’t stop crying…So Fr. Asked if he could bless the baby.I said, sure. Honestly, I didn’t know what that would entail. You know I tried that catholic thing for a long time but it never really took… I don’t have anything against it, but it doesn’t feel like the right path for me, now.Regardless, on that New Year’s Day, Fr. took some oil from his pocket and anointed my one-year-old son with it, making a sign of the cross on his forehead, and he said a prayer. I can still see him, holding him so tenderly...It was not five minutes later that [my son] started squirming to get down. He walked to the coffee table, where there were some cookies, and picked one up, and it was the first thing he’d eaten without being coaxed for weeks.He got better every day, after that. To see him now, so tall and confident, it's hard to see that sick baby in there, anywhere.I’ve told this story many times to people who were open to it, because it taught me a very valuable lesson. As you know, I wasn’t raised with any religion and so prayer is not something that comes naturally to me. When I told Fr. Cassidy that I’d done everything for [my son], in reality there was one thing I'd never done – and that was pray for him to get better.I’ve believed, ever since that day at your house, that prayer is very valuable and, while I still don’t really get all the catholic stuff, I have a very strong spiritual connection that I tap into all the time and I do attend a Unity church, which seems to give me more freedom to believe as I need to.So, I wanted to tell you this, and to let you know that you are in my prayers now. It isn’t a hollow statement… it’s the truth. And, I really do feel as if I owe you a lot for that day twenty years ago – for being such a good friend by thinking of me, and for being the one to bring me to the truth about prayer.Beyond this, there are also other times when I know I could have been a better friend. I was always so caught up in the kids’ lives that I often forgot about everyone else. I held people at arms length, even you who were such a good friend to me, and I'm sorry about that. I'd really like to be there for you now.So… I’m sure you have all kinds of things on your mind, right now, and maybe there are things coming up that are going to make it difficult for you to get to the every-day-stuff, like dinner or shopping. I’d be glad to go to the store and pick things up for you, and also, it would make me very happy if you would let me bring dinner over – for whomever is there to eat it. I cook for my family most nights, anyway, so it would be no trouble to make dinner for you, as well. Maybe you’d like me to bring dinner tomorrow night? Or would Saturday or Sunday be better?Let me know what I can do. I’m here, thinking of you,
My sponsor told me to remember that I might not hear anything, that all I could do is "my part" and then let it go... and then she congratulated me on making my first official amends.