I forgot to turn my phone back from vibrate only after I finished my one-on-one interviews Sunday evening. That means I missed the call from someone in the 707 area code yesterday as I was headed over to do time at the school. The caller had left a message, and I listened to it right before lunch started.
It was someone from my long-ago life. And I was floored that he was calling. I heard his voice breaking. I heard deep emotion. I heard him say he had things he had to tell me.
He and his wife were my ex-husband's and mine best friends. Their daughter, born in April 1995, was our goddaughter. I was there when she was born. Up until the birth of my own first child, that was the most awesome and powerful day of my life. I loved her and her parents unquestionably and completely.
The day I left my ex-husband was the last time they had anything to do with me. That hurt like hell. I can't adequately articulate how much it hurt.
When I heard his message, I immediately assumed that my ex-husband had died. And then I kind of hoped that he had done the right thing and left me money.
He hadn't. Died. Or left me money. (But I can still hope he'll do the right thing when he does eventually drop dead.)
Obviously, I called Steve back. I wanted to know what he had to say. He had a lot to say. Mostly, though, he wanted to say he was sorry, so very, very sorry, for what he had done to me by leaving me completely, and for pushing his wife to do the same.
And then he talked of many, many things. Things that shocked me. Things that elated me. Things that assuaged the guilt I've carried for years. And things that lightened my heart and soul.
I've never really held him responsible for not being a part of my life, which isn't to say that I wasn't deeply hurt by his action. The night I left Gerry, I called Steve and told him to tend to Gerry, to not worry about me. He was Gerry's best friend, after all. [His wife, Leslie, though? Yeah, I don't think I would have returned her call.]
He said talking to me was his last item on his bucket list. He figures he might have a year left to live.
I hope he takes my words as truth. I hope he knows that I forgive all, even knowing everything he told me yesterday. And I hope he was speaking the truth when he said I get to see my goddaughter again, a now-15-year-old beautiful teenager whom I think of every April 9.
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