I know that I’m in the middle of this online dating series (click here for more on that), but something else has been on my mind…
One of my closest friends-someone I’ve known for nearly 15 years—is going through a difficult time in her life right now. In the past, when things took a bad turn, I found it easy to be there for her. I knew when to listen. I knew when to speak. I knew what to say. I don’t know how I knew, but I did. I would give words of encouragement whenever she had trouble seeing the upside of an undesirable situation. I could help ease her fears by reminding her of who she really is. Every now and then, a more direct—I can’t believe you did that—approach was needed. I would say what others would not say to her. Somehow, I felt assured that the right words would come to me for whatever her situation needed. I can remember when a trip across town to sit down and chat in person was the only way to get down to what was really going on and what she needed to do or not do next.
I miss the time when we were living in the same city and could have face-to-face time during a crisis or just because we felt like it. That was years ago. Since then, we’ve learned how to cross the many states between us by mail, by phone, by wire, by email, by instant message, by text, by Facebook, by Skype, and by air. We adjusted to the distance. We found ways to stay connected and oftentimes communication was fast enough that I would forget about the distance.
But now, things are different.
I only have one way to reach out to her.
I need to write my friend a letter.
I need to put pen to paper, soon. I have been carrying around the same card for weeks. Yet, its pages remain blank. There’s nothing normal about this. I love to write. I mean, I love the feel of just the right pen in my hand. I love the dance between ink and paper, my hand and fingers, and pen. This should be easy for me. I know her situation. Yet, the card is empty. My mind is even emptier when I look at its blank pages.
For the first time, I do not know what I could possibly say to help her. I feel heavy with worry about the impact my words might have on her. What if I say the wrong thing this time? I won’t be able to quickly explain or clarify or apologize. This is going to be a one-way conversation, at least, for awhile.
I want to say that everything will be alright and won’t last too long, but I don’t have a sense of it. I want to say you’re not alone, but I know that’s exactly how she feels. I really want to say it’s not that bad, but this time it does feel that bad.
She is waiting to hear from me, but I’m letting her down. I have to write something, and I have to do it soon. What should a letter to my friend say?
I can only hope that letting her know that she is loved unconditionally is enough.