A very dear friend of mine was in town over the Thanksgiving holiday and we had the chance to visit with each other for a few hours. Between cheers for the hometown hockey team, we chatted about this, that and the other thing, though most of it revolved around me and my health. I’d had surgery a couple of weeks earlier and so, perhaps naturally, this was the topic most visited. My friend, though, has had a really difficult few years, filled with changes and stress. When our visit was over, after I waved goodbye from the curb and went back inside my home, I realized all of the things we didn’t talk about. I realized how, for all of our closeness and friendship, we hadn’t talked much at all about anything that was going on for her. I felt badly. I sent an email to share this; to tell my friend that I was aware this had occurred. She wrote back to tell me, “It was ever so much better to talk about you.”
This morning I received an email from another good friend, one who I’m scheduled to meet after work to do an exchange of some items. Her email was one sent to a number of friends, telling them that her mom had died somewhat unexpectedly the night before. There had been a long illness and hospice was involved, but still it came as a surprise. My friend then forwarded this email to me with an additional note that said, “I think I’ll still meet you… probably easier than figuring out what I should really be doing.”
When I was in seminary, my peace group dubbed me “The Prophetess of Doom.” Naysaying, I guess, was the gift I brought to our collective. I cannot deny that it fit me, but I’ve spent a lot of time and effort over the years since to shed myself of it. It’s not the character trait I’m most proud of. Thinking of my two friends and the recent experiences, I wonder if my real gift isn’t that of diversion. If you need to forget about what you should be doing, if you need a break from the realities of whatever is happening for you, if you need a detour from your life, you can call me and I’ll help you to think about and/or do something else. And as I think about that gift, I think it’s one I’m much happier to share, for friend who can give you a respite, is a good friend indeed.