One text. That’s all it took to change everything. My world would never be the same. And I fear that many days I will walk through life not even realizing the difference.
Sometimes the Eternal puts someone in your life who leaves an indelible mark. A person who, in the moment, you don’t even realize is changing you. A change that you don’t even realize has happened until that person is gone. Forever. This is what happened to me.
Upon entering my life I was determined to hate this man. You see, this man, I’ll call him Mr. B, had met my aunt at a conference in Maine. After dating long distance they announced that my aunt would be moving from her home in Colorado to Albany, NY to be near Mr. B. It seemed to happen so fast. And it wasn’t fair. My aunt wasn’t just my aunt. She was my friend, my confidant, my cheerleader and champion. She was one of the only people I felt that I could count on. And as a young mother in a very bad marriage I needed her. Certainly more than Mr. B needed her.
Just before my aunt’s big move Mr. B and his 9 year old daughter M came out to Colorado to meet all of my aunts friends and family. Mr. B was loud, pig-headed, and didn’t seem to take anything seriously. And his daughter, oh man his daughter. Mr. B didn’t even make M brush her hair. All she had to do was whine and he folded like a stack of cards. What kind of parent did that? And if anyone said anything that M didn’t like Mr. B was all over them. When I asked Mr. B if he and my aunt planned on coming to Colorado for Christmas or Thanksgiving he made it very clear that all holidays were going to be spent in New York so that M could see both of her parents. Seriously?!? M had to see mommy and daddy on every holiday?!? And what about my aunts family? Were we just supposed to take a back see to everything? What a jerk!
I felt abandoned. I couldn’t believe my aunt was choosing this jackass over me! Over her family and all of the friends she had spent the last 30 years making! But it happened. She packed up or sold all of her belongings and then she was gone.
Looking back I remember those feelings like they were yesterday, even though it was more like fifteen years ago. I can even feel the remnants of those feelings for a moment if I try really hard. What I don’t remember clearly is how it all changed. Looking back it seems like I woke up one day and all of that hatred and hurt was just gone. And something else was growing in its place…
Here is some of what I remember from then to now…
Talking on the phone with my aunt I, being infinitely wise in my early twenties, picked a long distance, political argument. See I was a staunch and infallible conservative Republican. And my aunt was a hippy, liberal Democrat. I knew I had all the answers and that they were all correct. In the heat of the argument Mr. B jumped on the line. Not the loud, stubborn Mr. B; rather the calm, patient, and thought out Mr. B. This threw me for a total loop. It caught me by complete surprise. Mr. B broke down the topics and asked me fair questions about my beliefs. He encouraged me to think about why I believed what I thought I believed. This short moment in my life laid the foundation for the beliefs that I have today. Beliefs that I no longer feel that I need to be defensive about. Beliefs that I am proud of living by and sharing in a loving way with others.
At least that is what I thought.