Just Say “Hello”

In a previous post, I spoke of a friendship I had lost last year, and was trying to salvage. I am very happy to report, I was successful. Actually, I really should say “WE were successful,” because I certainly didn’t make it happen on my own.

As is the case with any sort of relationship, a friendship takes effort from both parties. And in this particular instance, both parties failed to put forth enough effort, specifically wherein communication was concerned. There were misunderstandings on my side, and misunderstandings on hers, all of which could have been cleared up with simple communication. Instead, we fell silent, and drifted apart.

As months passed, I agonized over whether or not to attempt contact. Not wanting to make the situation worse, I wasn’t sure if contact would be welcomed. And so I refrained, erring on the side of caution. Time continued to pass, and as I reflected upon the number of friends and loved ones I lost last year to illness, disease, even murder, the ever present knowledge that life is far too uncertain forced my hand. While out for a walk, my mind was racing about many things, as usual. As I thought of the many lost connections, I decided to at least try to make contact, and see if a conversation could take place.

In hindsight, the amount of courage I had to muster was silly. But in the moment, I froze. I came to a very literal standstill. Right there, in the middle of a 5 mile walk, I stopped on the side of the trail, and stared down at my phone. I had no idea what to say. How do you start a conversation after a year-long silence? After all this time, what could I possibly say that would even deserve a response? I took a deep breath, and slowly typed: h – e – l – l – o. One single word, which seemed to take forever to craft. I continued to gaze at the screen, my thumb hovering, waiting, as if expecting my smart phone to be smart enough to tell me if this text was a good idea or bad. I took another deep breath, and clicked “send.”

“Well, there’s nothing I can do now,” I thought to myself, and resumed my walk.

Within mere moments, my phone chimed the arrival of a text message. I froze yet again. For a moment, I couldn’t bring myself to look at the screen. That moment was fleeting, however, for I HAD to know who had sent the message. It was her. In a mixture of relief and disbelief, I quickly opened the message because the question now was if it was a good reply, or did she say “leave me alone!” With trepidation, I read the text…

“Hey there! How are you doing? Hope everything is good for you!”

A sigh of relief escaped my lungs, followed by a smile on my lips. As I look back on it now, and think of the nerve I needed to summon in order to send my message, I have no idea how hard it may have been for her to reply. But reply she did. We chatted for just a little while via text, catching up very briefly, then scheduled a time to get together and talk in person. When we met, there was the expected awkwardness at first that comes from a situation like this, but soon it was gone and we were talking like the old friends we are. The misunderstandings were cleared up. Apologies were said. Forgiveness was bestowed. Talk of the “situation” gave way to talk of family, friends, work, and life. The initial awkwardness was quickly replaced by laughter.

An entire year was gone. Time which can never be reclaimed, had vanished into the ether. But we had finally reconnected, and agreed in the future we would talk about things, and not let them divide us.

I’ve had the immense pleasure of regaining a few lost connections this year. Others, unfortunately, have made it clear that reconciliation is not desired. But maybe, just maybe, one day they will find themselves thinking of how fragile life is, and how we never know if we will get another chance to talk with someone for whom we care. And perhaps one day they will find themselves gazing at their phone as I did, and they, too, will send a little “hello.” A small word, indeed. But it can be the beginning of such grand discourse.

In the end, it all comes back to communication. We need to be brave enough to say what we feel, yet also willing to listen to those who need us to hear. Without communication, rifts and divisions can’t help but arise. But WITH communication…an immeasurable amount of good is possible.

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