She told me that a close friend had died recently and she realized that no one else could fill that void in her life. She began to think about how each dear friend is irreplaceable and then about several other much loved friends with whom she had lost contact through the years. I was one of them. She set out to find me.
I was so happy to be found. I settled in for a good conversation as memories of my friendship with Kathy warmed my heart.
It wasn't just that I loved to swap stories and laugh with her or that we had both gone back to graduate school in middle age while working full time and were quick to commiserate with each other. It wasn't just that I thoroughly enjoyed her company. I also remembered how once she had come to my defense and stood by me when it seemed no one else would.
Kathy was my assistant for several years during an usually difficult time in a workplace that, largely speaking, was an 8-year-long dark night of the soul for me.
At one juncture, five years into my tenure there, a mentally disturbed temporary worker in our department launched a campaign of outrageous lies and rumors about me that roiled around the workplace, undermining my position and my relationships with co-workers. Initially, only Kathy stood by me. Only Kathy had the courage to stand up and speak the truth. She alerted the Dean of our department, my immediate boss, convincing him that the spreading rumors were completely untrue and eliciting his vigorous support of me. She compiled exhaustive documentation of the malicious lies and intervened with the HR director who, without notifying or questioning me, was about to initiate harsh disciplinary actions.
Further investigation found that this temporary worker had exhibited such behavior at other companies where she had worked. In one instance, her lies and taunts prompted one of her previous targets to lash out and strike her. Claiming injury and trauma, this temp worker had ended up with a good sum of money -- enough to buy her own home -- from a subsequent lawsuit against the company.
The crisis in our workplace blew over and the temp was let go. But the pain lingered -- in my own hurt and in some relationships that would never be the same. Kathy was unfailingly supportive and saw me through that particularly dark time. I've never forgotten her kindness and courage.
But then, during a re-organization crisis at work, Kathy and her life partner Sue decided to make long deferred move to Seattle. Kathy was suddenly gone and, sadly, we lost touch. I have thought of her so many times over the years.
Hearing her voice on the phone made my day. How wonderful it is to rediscover a warm connection with a friend who has meant so much.
Reconnecting with people who are important to us is a great gift, whether we have been separated by years, by hurt feelings, by private sorrows or simply by the distractions and demands of daily life.
What a pleasure it is to rediscover joy with a college friend who is just now emerging from a painful 45 year marriage that sapped his energy and spirit during recent years. Now he is living much as he did as a student -- one room apartment, no car, tight budget. And he's happy -- with a gentle breeze wafting through the open windows of his apartment, walking to work in a city he loves, bicycling along the lakefront. He has little -- and he has everything. Freedom from pain means so very much to him. Though we've been close friends throughout the years, it's wonderful to see his joyous spirit emerge once more and to reconnect with that wonderful aspect of him.
What a pleasure it is to have a good conversation with my brother Mike, with my sister Tai, with my sister-in-law Amp or my dear friend Mary and to reconnect anew, discovering new insights from old and dear relationships.
And what a great, sweet surprise it is to share a lunch with neighbors who have moved away, as Bob and I did yesterday, and to reconnect with these good friends. And how good for the soul it is to share yet another lunch with another couple who are dear neighbors and who are planning to move away. But they are serious about wanting to keep in touch.
It makes one want to launch a celebration of reconnection: to write a note, send an email, make a phone call to someone special we have missed.
Kathy Lake sent me an email recently that said "Now that I've reconnected, I find I really miss you!" So true. She's planning a visit in the fall.
What reconnections would you like to make? What notes have you been meaning to write? What phone calls do you need to make? Which friends from your past would you like to rediscover through Facebook or an email or a well-timed text message?
You may make someone's day.