It was the strangest sensation, sitting across from her in Applebees once more. Could it really have been that over three years had passed? Oh how I had missed her! I looked to my left and another dear friend had joined us. Flashbacks of Fridays here, of caramel and shared appetizer platters, of laughter and tears. It was just like old times, right?
Not quite. See, three years ago something went wrong. I had been ill and there had been two years of conflict with an administrator who had been caught in a series of lies. I was also getting ready to move and the drive to "our building" would turn tedious. Though there were tears of sorrow and anger, I resigned as a full-time teacher. At the same time,my friend was elected PTO president and would be working right alongside that same administrator, as well as her own teaching position. There wasn't tension at first. I helped her mom move and then she helped me move. My goddaughter came to stay for another summer. Even though finances were tight, and I knew they were going to get a lot tighter, the goal had been for the teenager to have a great summer. But then, I messed up. It didn't seem like a catastrophic event at the time, but I guess it was. One comment, the day after a trip which did not go as planned due to miscommunications, and that was it. The silence was confusing, but once I found out why, I thought the issue was resolved. It wasn't. A harsh reply to a question I asked and my words from there made the break.
And I missed her. And the reception when I visited the building was cold on that side of the school. Hugs came from all the rest and questions about the now broken trio came from some. My sadness had to have shown in those moments.
But time heals. Slowly, conversations started back up. At first, they were supervised by the third person in our triangle of friendship. Then, she cornered me in a hallway in November of 2012. We talked for over an hour, though my guard was up the entire time. Some emails and texts were exchanged. I saw her again during a spring visit and more conversation happened. A bit of the break healed.
It was this August when real healing began. I was again visiting the building -handing out hugs and catching up. Hers was the last room in my circuit. I was greeted very warmly, told of her great news and we celebrated with a little dance. She surprised me by inviting me to the wedding right there on the spot. People were coming in and out of the room, but the moment it was quiet she turned to me. She always could read me so well. She demanded to know why I was pale, why my eyes looked like I was dying. I told her of the struggle at home, told her of the diagnosis Owen and I were facing.
And she took me in her arms, she rocked me back and forth...and we cried. Cried for lost years, lost support for each other, lost laughter and more. We apologized to each other and said it was time to heal.
Four weeks (and one beautiful wedding) later, the three of us were back in our stomping grounds.
Forgiveness. It is such a powerful word. It is one that, when present, can heal and build and grow and be shared. When absent, the dark abyss it causes can grow like a cancer. Bitterness, confusion, sadness and more will suck a person farther down. Please, no matter how hard, make forgiveness your ultimate goal. Maybe it won't work out like you planned and the person won't accept the apology. Maybe it is someone you need to forgive but can't say the words. Let actions lead the way then. Don't let it sink you. Another post will follow this one...and it is about 2 people who were in that hole. It will be about two people who, on one very unexpected afternoon, found forgiveness...