Last confessions

Probably seems like an odd title for a Christmas post. Except this is a different Christmas, at least for me. This Christmas is the last I will spend with one of my dearest friends. Today he oversaw what will likely be his last mass as a priest. As of midnight tonight, he is technically on sabbatical.

A sabbatical from which he will likely not return. He’s lost his faith or at least his faith in the church. Driven away by politics which have less to do with faith and more to do with petty people trying to protect their fiefdoms. I know some of the people who have driven him away, would have gone so far as to call a few of them friends. Knowing all of the details, I now struggle with calling them friends. I know I will find it hard to be polite to them, to socialize with them.

Tonight as we finally chased the last of the guests from the house we talked about it over a delicious bottle of wine. He is at peace with it all, happy to start the next phase of his life. I am less peaceful about it. I am resentful, angry, annoyed, pissed, lost.

I should back up a bit and tell you about Patrick. I’ve known him for 24 years. This is the third time he’s been my priest in those years. We became fast friends the first moment we met. My charming, tall, dark, blue-eyed Irishman with the musical accent which has never softened. I have often wondered if in another time and place we might have been destined to be together. However, this isn’t one of those stories. We’ve never been anything but friends, now more brother and sister.

It’s been lovely having him here the past 7 years. It seems he’s been here for all of the milestones in my life. He’s heard my confessions, talked me through my own crises of faith, prayed with me and for me when I’ve needed it most. Laughed with and at me as only someone who truly knows you can. I like to to believe I have done much the same for him. That this hasn’t been a one-sided relationship, that I have given as much as I have gotten. He sustains me in a way others don’t. I will miss that most of all.

Wednesday I said my last confession to him. Today I attended his last mass. He will spend the night here tonight and late tomorrow afternoon I will take him to the airport. You see, not only is he leaving the church, he’s going home to Ireland, 4,463 miles (give or take) away.

I’ve known for awhile. I haven’t dealt with it yet. I will wait until he’s safely on the plane and then I will start dealing (read crying). Come Sunday when I head to church will be the first hurdle. How will I handle not seeing him? I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out Sunday.

Ireland isn’t so far away and I will see him this summer. The miracle of modern technology means he is never more than a skype call away (time zones be damned). It’s not the same but real friendship doesn’t require proximity. When it’s real it will evolve, deepen despite geography. I look forward to our next chapter, to sustaining the relationship which has come to mean so very much to me. I have faith.


Talk or distract

The three most powerful words in the English language when spoken by someone who knows you better than you know yourself. This morning my dear friend Amy used those on me. We were Skype walking (it’s a thing) and within 10 words she knew I was at loose ends. So with no preamble she spoke those words…talk or distract.

I should back up and explain. I haven’t had the best last few weeks. Things have been slightly out of control, nothing I will get into just suffice it to say it’s been sucko. The average person who knows me wouldn’t guess it. I have smiled, been sociable, supportive to my family & friends. To all outward appearances I have been normal.

Underneath it all, however, I have been a mass of seething insecurity. It bubbled out here and there but mostly I have kept it under wraps. So how does someone who lives 6,000 miles away know after 10 words I am a hot mess hanging by a thread? She’s Amy, that’s how. Perhaps it was a quiver in my voice, a forced frivolity I didn’t really feel, who knows. She just knew there was only thing she needed to do. Make me talk or distract me with the inanities of her recent move to the UK.

This morning I opted for a talk. I don’t always but today I needed it. She listened for 20 minutes as I poured out all of the things which had happened in the last 3 weeks. Then at the end when I was breathless not from my walk but from the expending of pent up emotion she made me laugh. She didn’t solve my problems (well one she did) but she did make me look at them in a different light. It’s not something just anyone can do. It takes a special sort of friend.

Since the moment we met 8 years ago, Amy has always been that person for me and vice versa. We rarely need to say what’s going on, we intuit it. It was even what prompted her to call me this morning. She said she just felt I needed her. She was right.

It’s that connection which has led us to travel the continent (when she lived in the states) to see each other. At least three times a year we ran away together. Usually it was some amazing destination where there were plentiful drinks, amazing food and lots of spa treatments. One time it was to Myrtle Beach (yes the redneck riviera). I’m not casting aspersions but when the world is your oyster and your BFF says we are going to Myrtle Beach you stop and say Talk or Distract. When she says she just broke up with her significant other of 8 years you book 2 tickets and don’t look back.

It was one of our best getaways. We drank too much, ate too much, went parasailing, shopped, spent too much time in the sun, flirted inappropriately (only me as I am married but we didn’t pay for a single drink that night) and bought a snow globe. The snow globe was the entire point of the trip. Amy collects them from places she has lived. She didn’t have one from Myrtle Beach and needed one. The last night, in the dark, in our hotel room, she finally told me about the ending. She cried, I cried and all was right with the world.

This morning, as I walked along the trail in north Texas and she walked along the Thames, we talked. I had distracted myself long enough and it was time to let go. Amy was there to catch me and put me back together. By the end of the call (and walk) we were planning our next great adventure in London, safe in the knowledge that not even an ocean could keep us apart.