Today I visited a nice woman who helped me set up our LLC. We didn’t know each other well but I could tell she wanted to talk about more than business. After a few minutes of silence (the only sound, her fingers softly tapping the computer’s keyboard) she swiveled around in her desk chair and began to tell me of her family, how she is the only sibling left, how all of her sisters were dead by the age of 52, how she wasn’t very close to them. I was so happy, honored really, that she felt safe enough with me to pry herself open and share some deeply buried emotions. (My God what have I done to deserve such goodness?) I mean, I have my own death-stories (too many and counting) but I had not shared mine with her. It was as if a faucet turned on inside her heart and she needed to let the water gush and drip. She spoke of how she spent her whole life trying to get her mother to call her then one day she accepted that if she wanted to talk to Mama, she would have to initiate the call. No more wishful thinking. No more self-deluding. She said once she made peace with this fact, everything fell into place. It didn’t magically transform their relationship, it just gave her the exquisite gift of freedom that can only come from accepting the truth of a situation. She spoke of her father, how she had cared for him thirteen years and finally she had to send him home to his wife (her mother) because he was messy and careless. Moving him out wasn’t a big emotional affair because they were never close. As I listened to her, I felt a weird mix of pity and pride. I was sad that she never had a real bond with her family but I was proud that she had sought and found a tight relationship with her Godmother who is also deceased but extremely alive in her memories and heart. I guess it doesn’t really matter where our love comes from as long as we get it. On the way to her basement office, I met and chatted with her husband and two daughters. They all seemed so happy, so family. Obviously she has done a good job of creating the type of familial love she never had. That I think is the silver lining here: the force of our desire can help us create what we’ve never had. All is not lost and dysfunction doesn’t have to produce itself. Oh, and one more thing: if we can manage to close our mouths for just a few seconds, the one with whom we are sharing silence might just turn around in her chair and share the gift of her story. All we must do is listen.
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