ImageI must admit I am completely stunned and humbled by the response to yesterday’s post.  I never imagined how many of my friends would be affected by my story.  I also never realized how many people cared for me during that time in my life (and years afterward) and never found a way to share their feelings with me.  As youngsters, most of us had insecurities that prevented us from sharing such sentiments.  But what is our excuse as adults?  What drives us to bury our thoughts, feelings, desires from those we cherish the most?  

Many of you know that I was blessed to marry one of my best friends, Christian.  Before we dated, we shared everything with each other.  I knew all of his secrets (yes, he had plenty) and he preserved all of mine.  As friends, we hurt each other with selfish actions, but we never doubted our love for each other.  As we grew older and our relationship changed to one of intimacy, we became more guarded with our feelings.  We were hesitant to share our moments of sadness, fear, regret, temptation, etc.  Eventually, our conversations grew less meaningful, our silences became more profound.  When I felt Christian withdraw emotionally from me, I responded by building a concrete foundation to secure my own doubts and pain.  After a  time, when Christian found that he needed to reach out to me, he was unable to cross the barriers I had erected and I was too stubborn and prideful to tear them down myself.   We lived in the same house, but there was an ocean dividing us.  

It wasn’t until Christian’s dreadful diagnosis of lymphoma in 2002 that we were forced to “get real” with other.  We had an infant to think about.  We had to put aside the years of mistrust and decide how to move forward to secure a future for our son.  There were attempts at complete reconciliation, but the time for us to mend our internal wounds for a successful marriage had passed.  We poured our hearts out to each other, claiming responsibility for our marital carnage.  We extended a friendly truce to each other, not just for David’s sake, but for the sake of two kids that had once been the best of friends.  When Christian died in 2003, I was distraught.  I was unsure how to make it through the days without hearing his easy-going voice or endless jokes.  The one thought that made Christian’s death more bearable, was knowing that he and I had made peace with each other.  I have never had a single night of regret that Christian did not know how I felt about him or that I would have to live on this earth without his forgiveness.  He and I had overcome the worst of circumstances to become the best of friends again.  But we had to throw away our insecurities with each other, open wide the doorway to our vulnerabilities and lay claim to the love we could resurrect from all of our years together.  

A life-threatening illness, an innocent child and a wrecked marriage motivated our conversations.  You would think that I would have taken that to heart and used that as a learning opportunity to never let another day pass by without telling everyone I love — on whatever level — how much they mean to me.  I should know not to overlook an opportunity to express gratitude, extend a congratulations, share heart-felt sympathy, say a simple “Love you”.  But that childish fear holds me back, makes me question how my sentiments will be taken.  Will they be embraced or thrown back in my face?  Will I be laughed at or turned away?  Looking into that 12 year old girl’s face yesterday, I realize that I have faced much worse in my life.  No one can make me feel as small, lonely, and terrified as I did 28 years ago.  I have nothing to lose by reaching out to those around me.  And honestly, neither do you.