Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Joy of Reconnecting

The voice on the phone was faintly familiar, but a name eluded me until she told me that hers was a voice from the past and her name was Kathy Lake.

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?

Don't wait.

You may make someone's day.


  1. Ahh, this is such a good reminder. Good friends are more valuable than any worldly riches, yet too often we treat them like they're disposable. I'm going to work to re-establish some old, dormant connections~

  2. I loved reading this. I love that this person went out of her way to reconnect with you. Isn't interesting that someone who played such a key role in your life at one time moved away and over time the connections you once had were lost. And then, all it took was a phone call, and that friendship was suddenly reignited.

    Just yesterday, in another city, by chance, I saw a dear friend from over 20 years ago. I hurried to catch up with her as she and her husband and children were leaving the grocery store. I called out, because I was unsure if it was truly my old friend, "Excuse me. Don't I know you?" She turned, looked a moment and said, "Sally!" Then we both embraced and laughed. She called me a nut. We both started laughing and said, "Don't I know you?" She then said, "Isn't it interesting how you don't see a friend for years, then you see each other and it is as if you never lost contact?"

    She was visiting from New Mexico; I was visiting from out of town, and we had a chance encounter in the grocery store. How crazy is that? We exchanged email addresses and made promises to catch up soon.

  3. You can never forget people who stand by you when all others condemn and accuse. This chance encounter will prove to be significant, and I hope that you both now keep in touch.

  4. Wow, Kathy was you friend when it wasn't easy to be you friend. That is a true test that few pass. I have moved so many times and have left such treasured friends by the way side. Such a shame. So glad you two have reconnected. Maybe I should-----

  5. First, TY for your visit, Kathy. You are always a delight. I have been a bad blogger because our business has kept us busy & then company ... summer always being a bad time for me.

    Re: lunar post ... I have heard this story shared on the news (Fox I believe) but so remember reading of it long ago. Of course, the liberal press is not going to play that story long, if at all. Isn't it just wonderful that he served God at the time in that place? So in Heaven to be celebrating ...

    Love the share on your friend Kathy. The only notes that I would (have) write are to our daughter & son to get their acts together, enough is enough. So glad you found Kathy & are able to reconnect with so many ... strong friendships were hard to have in the USN.

    Have a beautiful day ~
    TTFN ~

  6. We also moved as did so many people and lost touch with everyone, living our own lives and dealing with our own troubles.I guess when the right time comes along, it's nice to go back and see what happened in between but then you find all traces of what you left behind gone as if this time never existed.

  7. I think reconnections are important, as they're reminders of where we've been in our lives and who we chose at those times to have near us.

    I do Facebook for exactly that reason.

  8. Dear Kathy, this posting is so timely for me. I'd been out of touch with a dear friend for a month. That doesn't sound like a long time, but we'd spoken every week for years. He'd sent an e-mail a month ago to which I simply didn't know how to respond. It confused me and made me begin to rethink my decision to move. I was grateful to him for his concern, but utterly able to explain to him or anyone all the reasons and the feelings behind my yearning to return to Minnesota.

    But last Friday I e-mailed him and explained and then on Sunday I called and both of us took great joy in our conversation.

    Thank you for encouraging us to reconnect with those who have touched our lives in the past. I'm going to follow through on this. Peace.

  9. Very nice. You know, I've been something of a rover all my life, moving yearly in childhood, treating jobs the same way.

    This has me thinking of all the people I've known -- and all the people I've lost touch with...