Cathy

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I met her when I was 14. She was my boyfriend’s little sister but she was nice and friendly and she became my friend. We became family when I married her brother and when it was time for her to get married I was her matron of honor. She walked happily down the aisle with Eric to You Are The Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder. I will never forget it because it was so like her doing life her way. Years later I found a designer who made a necklace out of the song and sent it her. She sent back a note that she couldn’t believe I had remembered. She would invite me to absolutely every family event they had. I remember one conversation:

“Umm, thanks but I think it would be awkward to go consider I’m no longer married to your brother.”

“Did you divorce me?”

“No”

“I didn’t divorce you either. You’re my sister-in-law and the mother of my nephew and my niece and you are invited to all family functions.”

Then we’d laugh and tell secrets that only friends that know each other well can tell about things that are really none of our business.

After a three year battle with cancer I got the call from my son that Cathy was being sent home to hospice. I contacted my mother-in-law and asked if I could go and see Cathy, understanding that they have a big family and I didn’t want to intrude. She said of course I could come. I walked into a room filled with people and went to hold Cathy’s hand. She said quietly, “Susie, I have missed you.” I said, “I’ve missed you too and I came to tell you I love you.” She answered that she loved me too and that she was tired and she was sorry but she didn’t want to fight cancer anymore. I told her I understood and that I didn’t want her to feel as if she had to host me as a guest, instead I was there for her. We talked about God and heaven and she said she had seen glimpses as God was leading her spirit little by little. We told a couple of secrets that made us both smile and then her brothers came into the room and it was the four of us like it was when we were teenagers. We talked about where life had taken us and old stories about the past. We brought up phone bills, and FaceTime, and how much trouble we’d be in if were teens today and we laughed like we used to over stupid stuff. Cathy took a sip of ice water and through half-closed eyes she said to me, “See what I have to do to get us all together like old times?” I replied, “Who knew all those fights with your brothers would make you give cancer a run for its money?”

My sister and my friend is passing from this life to her next one and as I write this my heart breaks. It breaks because we distance ourselves from painful events and while we do, there is the unintended casualties of souls that are wounded. It seems necessary to separate out, to stop the pain in the moment, and are in the end are such pitifully poor decisions. To turn away love from one heart because another has been careless with your heart can never be right. I’m thanking God for second chances and a deep friendship with a wonderful woman who loved me deeply and who is forever embedded in my heart.

 

I’m Sorry

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I found a message in my voicemail box the other night from a woman who is a new friend.  She was apologizing for her attitude at a meeting we’d had earlier in the day.  I wasn’t even offended and the events weren’t even on my radar. To be perfectly honest, I did notice she was testy but I chalked it up to frustration. I feel both she and her apology are impressive. She is someone I want to get to know better because she is real and owns her stuff.

Nothing is worse than being unable to see when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings. We justify, we deny, we blame, we point fingers, we cry, we yell, then we do it all over again and like the spin cycle in a washer it wrings us out. A lack of discernment to the feelings of others over time leaves us alone because people get tired of it.

We humans are opinionated and we will eventually step on someone’s toes. It’s inevitable that we’ll eventually say something to hurt another person. The key to our success in life will be whether we have the ability to decide that to apologize is the best course of action. Swallowing our pride and realizing that whether we want to admit it or not, we hurt someone. Saying I’m sorry shows a genuine concern for others and the relationship we have with them. It also shows others who are watching, because there is always someone watching, that we are someone who can be counted on to do the right thing.

In my life there have been plenty of times that I have had to turn around and go to someone and say I’m sorry. I’ve been short, I’ve been snarky, I’ve been testy, I’ve been wrong. It’s never fun and often embarrassing but to pretend like we aren’t wrong doesn’t make it so, except in our mind. We will lose much more than we gain and we will always take more away from our reputation that we are willing to give. Whatever you do, don’t do the fake apology that people with any brain at all can spot from a mile away. “I’m sorry if you feel I’ve offended you in any way.” Ambiguity isn’t classy it’s pathetic and it shows not repentance, being truly sorry, but remorse, being sorry we got caught. Let’s own our stuff and watch things get better in our life. We will sleep soundly knowing we did all we could to keep our relationships on the right track and I guarantee you there will be no sleepless nights. Yes, if I’m honest I’ve had a few sleepless nights in the past as I licked my perceived wounds but once I owned my part and did the right thing it brought so much peace. I dare you to try it.