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Remembering a Friend

July 25, 2009

Here’s a story from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous:

Sometimes the essential beauty of a human being is not fully apparent until they are gone.

Kahil Gibran said something like…‘and when you part from your friend you grieve not–for that which you love most in him becomes clearer”

We once had a friend who was deeply shy– so shy he would cross the street to avoid making eye contact.

Although he was shy he was a man who yearned for connection– as we all do.

Hiding behind a huge brimmed cowboy hat, his kind eyes would nervously meet yours before he quickly looked away. Yet as this happened, the sweetest smile would gently cross his face as he looked in another direction.

Behind that shy glance, was the heart of a man who was quietly open to the world and to people.

He did not express himself in ways we typically expect—and many times people ‘missed ‘seeing him.

He was once to tell a friend: “no one really knows me inside”.

In many ways his life was characterized by rejection, ridicule, and loneliness.

Yet he faced life full on–courageous and hopeful to the end of his life.

He never lost interest in the possibility of relationship, engagement and adventure–and he did not become bitter.

His open heart and gentleness permeated his being.  

I wonder how many people, who experience some kind of ‘difference,’ from the majority, feel that ‘no one really knows them inside’.

To be known, to be ‘seen’, to have people who ‘get us’ –is fundamental to our sense of belonging, safety in the world, our ability to contribute and to belief in our own worth. We all need ‘people in our corner’ who know and accept us fully and offer support to our life.

Gifts arrive unexpectedly.

Sometimes they come, as my husband put it, ‘in unusual packages’.

Our shy friend gifted our lives with his complete acceptance of us, his steadfast love over many years, freely given friendship, humor (like no other), and courage in the face of adversity. He remained determined to do his best, hopeful, resilient open.

He chose to face life full on– with his heart wide open to the world.

His friendship was a complete gift and through that gift, we were forever changed.

He invited us to risk getting to know him, to explore the possibility of friendship and see where it might lead.  

Through that simple quiet invitation, an enormous opening occurred. In any relationship, there is a moment when we choose to open our hearts and move past fear of risk. This is always a part of the experience of ‘falling in love’ with one another.

This quiet man’s life lifted us up– and now that he is gone, the impact he had is even clearer.

In essence he was a man who quietly and deeply enlarged our capacity to love.

This is part of his legacy to the world.

May we remain open and curious to the gifts we bring to one another.

Fully open to the possibility of relationship, beauty, adventure and discovery.

May we risk knowing one another deeply and create a world where we all have someone who ‘knows us on the inside’.

We live in gratitude for the life of our friend and his deep gifts to our life.

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