Tuesday, October 02, 2007

An Unexpected Gift

Karen Pierce, with whom I have not gotten along, wrote this as a comment to one of my recent posts:

Very sad. I have such a distrust and dislike for the medical field. We're at their mercy, and more and more it's becoming clear that there are a lot of "medical professionals" who should not be trusted with our care.

My sympathies to your family, Heather.

Her note is lovely, and although I wanted to write her to say so for days, I just couldn't take her sympathy note with the sincerity it was intended because of the history between us.

And that was sad -- really sad. Because maybe Karen was truly affected by what I wrote about how horribly unnecessary, undignified, and inhumane Dad's death was. It was a death which simply should not have happened -- not then, and certainly not that way, that is. Maybe Karen's sympathy note was for real -- an honest expression I could trust. Maybe she was reaching out to me, for the first time, in kindness, which would be a good thing I should encourage. Maybe it was a moment which could have turned our "relationship," (for lack of a better word) around, and yet, I was ... afraid. My thickened skin didn't trust her, or the way she reached out, or what her motives might be.

I kept thinking about these things. Was I being fair to Karen? Was I being fair to me? I wasn't sure. I did realize her words touched me enough to wish I felt safe putting faith in them.

So, I wrote this post, and although she was much the focus, it wasn't just about Karen because there are a lot of other people out there in the online needlework world tossing around cruel words without a second thought whom I hoped to at least encourage to have a second thought the next time they do something like this -- to anyone, not just me.

I have now edited that post because earlier yesterday evening, I received a surprising email from Karen in which she stated the comment she wrote in sympathy about my father-in-law was not only sincere, but also intended to put the past where it belongs -- behind us -- and to initiate a truce. And Karen said she still wanted to initiate a truce.

I emailed back suggesting we talk by phone, thinking if we could each hear each other's voice, we would be able to hear sincerity from each other much better than through email. I also gave her my phone number.

Just minutes later, the phone rang, and Karen and I laughed and occasionally teared up through a wonderful and quite lengthy conversation. We apologized to each other for our past disagreements and mean comments, and we really started talking with each other about who we are as individuals. In doing so, we quickly discovered several fairly unusual things we have in common. We were both prepared to be not only forgiving, but also open-minded because each of us had taken a step on our own in a vulnerable direction -- Karen with her email requesting a truce, and then me by giving her my phone number. Now we have an actual foundation -- and a fairly firm one at that -- for a real friendship.

Our past disagreements seem so silly to us, especially when neither of us can remember what it was that first triggered them. Why not let those things go? Why not be friends? Maybe not bosom buddies, but at least friends who can appreciate each other's stitching and be kind to each other ... I think we both felt a lot better about ourselves after the phone call.

There is so much else going on in the world -- things I don't have to remind anyone of, I know, but things which are actually causing loss of life because other people in allegedly more important positions can't be bothered to admit their mistakes, or sit down and talk with each other while treating each other like human beings and with a modicum of respect. I think about those other things going on in the world every day, and I'm quite active politically as far as contacting my Senators, Representatives, etc., to let them know what I think they should do to resolve things. Most of the time, I don't feel like I'm very effective at making anything happen.

But when I received Karen's email, and then her phone call in response to my email, and as we talked, I did feel like maybe I could actually cause some real change, at least in what is my little part of the world. I mentioned this to Karen, too, that we could set a different example by being the first -- but hopefully not the last! -- to STOP the meanness, which reminded me of a quote I'd read earlier this week somewhere:

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead
Contrary to our usual perceptions, a gift is always unexpected, never obligatory. I think sometimes we forget that in our materialistic world where we feel we "have to" give so-and-so a gift for her birthday or on Christmas. Such is not the case; we always choose to give a gift, and that choice is what makes the gift so special.

Friendship is perhaps the greatest gift of all. Thank you, Karen, for offering me the gift of friendship.

1 comment:

Allura said...

I'm glad to hear you worked things out. It's always more fun to have another friend. :)