O.K., maybe not exactly… Click-bait title? More closer to the truth, but still. I saw someone today that I didn’t think I’d see for a long time, or again for that matter.
An old friend and his wife. Now, I didn’t stop to say hello. I really didn’t want to, not at that moment at least. I’m not sure if they saw me, my wife saw them first and pointed them out. We were exiting through one set of doors, and about ten feet away they were entering. I know they saw my oldest daughter, because she asked when we were getting in the car why we didn’t stop.
I apologized to her for now stopping and told her that it’s complicated. My wife wondered if I was ok. I was processing things, feelings, thoughts, etc.
This person I had grown close to before I had left the institution. I looked up to him, still do in many ways. I had shared some of my deep struggles with him. Months before I left, we had a business lunch together. It was the last time I saw him, if I recall. There might have been one other time, but that was it. My last memory is that lunch. Then he disappeared. Business related, I guess. He wasn’t at church anymore, he was just gone. I had tried to contact him and sent a few texts telling him that he was in my thoughts. No return. He had been close to the leaders of church, too, from my observation he had been very close. They didn’t say anything, nor did i inquire. I figured if they knew something and were concerned enough to tell me about it, they would talk to me. It kinda sucked when I deleted his number, mainly from all the un-returned texts. But, I wished him well and thought no ill. I just figured, things were done for now between us, for whatever reason.
Then I left.
Now, between the time I left and now, I had heard rumors and treated them as such regarding his disappearance. It didn’t sound like him. So there he is. And basically, I ran as thoughts and emotions swelled up in me.
Thoughts like, “What if he thinks I believed the rumors?”, or, knowing that people have talked ill of me, “I wonder what he knows of my leaving?” Other things like that flew through my mind and with wife and kids in tow with me, I didn’t want to deal with it. So I didn’t turn my head, I didn’t look back, I never made eye contact. I hope that he understands and forgives me. Hopefully we’ll get to talk alone, man to man and exchange notes.
I extend him all the grace in the world. For whatever reasons the calls went unanswered and the texts not responded to. For whatever reasons, it’s OK. I don’t know what, if anything, he knows about me and my departure. My disagreements with the teachings (some would call it blasphemy…), etc… I don’t know if he is still close to the leadership like he was, and if so, what they have told him, if anything.
In certain instances, especially when it comes to people from the institution I left, I tend to listen to my flight response rather than staying around to engage in conversation.
To a degree it feels bad, but honestly, I think it’s the best thing I can do, and depending on the person, it is usually the kindest thing I can do.
In this case, it was the best thing given the circumstance.
I do hope we get to have a pleasant conversation on our own terms over a good cup of coffee or whatever.