The email was friendly, welcoming, and such a surprise. Someone I'd grown up with, reconnecting after 15+ years. For some reason, although I'd known him all my life, my friendship with him and his wife died after I left my husband. Too awkward, perhaps?
Regardless. The new connection was a happy one. One of the upsides of social media. Catching up was tender progress - my boys are doing x & y, I work at z. His career has taken a self-determined turn. How's the family.
The emails slowly deepened. More was revealed. And then, hell weekend. Catastrophe and heart-ache here. And I get back to the office to a lengthy email about his happy children. Successful. Graduated. And then came the real conversation stopper for me:
"We haven't had any drug problems, they aren't criminals ..."
I remembered, in that moment. All the Christmas letters we used to receive. Their children being, reportedly, magnificent at everything they touched. How I'd breathed a sigh of relief when I stopped receiving them.
My sons are magnificent creatures. But not absolutely everything came easily to them. Certainly not school, for The Oldest. And especially not in a school where he was put down, cast aside, and abused.
I sighed. And ignored the email for a few days. Then I told my Dad about it. He, in his tender wisdom, said "what if you were just honest with your friend and let him in. Maybe take your relationships a little deeper."
And so I was. Not dramatic, but honest. This has happened. This is what we are dealing with. The Oldest stole from his grandparents. He uses multiple drugs. He both wants and refuses help.
The response I got back floored me. "Thank you for trusting me after all these years with your heartache. We are praying for you all ..." and, oh, by the way, things aren't as rosy there as they seem. They have their own struggles that weren't shared in round 1.
Yes, we've had drug problems. We've had criminal behaviour. And we have love. We have hope. And we have friends and family praying for us. And we have friends and family with their own struggles and challenges who we can, in turn support.
The greatest thing about that opening quote is that this IS just the beginning. That each day is a new beginning.