People come, people go- and some come back….


I had a beautiful experience on Sunday.

It was one of those lazy afternoons that I haven’t gotten to spend with someone else in quite a while. Ken had come over the day before and we’d spent some quality time together as well as with my sibs and their spouses during the Folk Festival. We had also gone to a drag show (Yes, Butte has them- outdoors, no less). The day was slow and peaceful. I was enjoying just having Ken around to talk to and give me a hand with a few things. We had just finished lunch and were laying on my bed thinking about a nap. It was raining, I had everything I thought I wanted- life couldn’t get any better.  Then my phone rang.

I looked at the caller ID- Pat Power! Should I take it? Should I call him back after our nap? Times with Ken are so precious because they’re so few…. What would I say? It had been many years since we’d spoken. Would I have to explain my life and circumstances (which can still be a lot of work sometimes)?  Would he be the same guy? Would he still accept me? My mind was racing.

Then I stopped. I took a breath. I knew this guy. I had trusted him completely at several key moments in my life. I answered.

I had a 45 minute-long conversation with my best friend from college that nearly brought me to tears several times- not because it was mushy, but because I forgot how simple it can all be, and how much I missed this man and his family. His oldest, my godson, is now 19!  (and the reason for our re-connection- he’s also on facebook and the spitting image of his father….). We reminisced, got caught up, laughed, remembered, and (for me) seemed to fall right back into something familiar and satisfying. I loved every minute of it. Ken laid right next to me and slept softly. I felt happy. My trust was not misplaced. My fears (as usual) were ridiculous, and life got better.

One of my teachers says “Just when you think life can’t get any better, it has to. It’s a Universal Law.”

The whole thing caused me to reflect on the people who’ve come into my life, some who have gone out again, and some who have come back. That’s the nature of friendship. People come and go. Pat and I have come back around. So have a few others in my life. In my quiet times, I have realized I missed certain people from my life, and I took the responsibility to reach out and find them. Some have stayed, some have kept minimal contact. I’ve also missed some who no longer want to be around. Sometimes I’ve received an explanation, sometimes I haven’t. I’ve realized that I have also moved in and out of other people’s lives- sometimes deliberately, sometimes just naturally and sometimes a little recklessly. It helps me to understand and judge more gently the actions of others when I’ve done it myself….

I’ve noticed that most of the pain in my relationships comes not from the people moving in or out, but in my fighting that movement. This person shouldn’t go- I need them! That person needs to go, they offended me- why are they sticking around? I’ve been guilty of holding on too tightly to what I think should be- instead of what is. That’s just a recipe for suffering.

I actually had this poster on my wall in junior high:

A deep blue sky with a few far-off clouds, and a seagull or tern flying poignantly across some wispy letters: “If you love something set it free. If it comes back to you it is yours, if it doesn’t it never was.”

If I had to design a poster that reflects my feelings about relationships at this stage of my life, I would keep the bird and the background, but the text would be:

“If you love something, don’t cage it in the first place.”

6 comments on “People come, people go- and some come back….

  1. Karen says:

    Tears Greg. Big crocodile tears. Your writing always seems to touch me in that deep soulful place.

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  2. k says:

    ah hon, you are a treasure.
    I love you.
    Sleeping softly?

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  3. Carol Bergstrom says:

    I remember Pat, what a guy, and so are you. I love reading your stuff, don’t stop writing.

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  4. Ange (Zurf) Campbell says:

    What a nice letter. People do come and go. It’s not always easy but I do believe there is a reason, good or bad. You are a great person Mr. Smith!!! You have nothing to fear of old or new friendships. Slowly through life my husband has helped me learn that people will either like you and accept you, or not. It really doesn’t matter, you are who you are. Not everyone has to like “it” or you, or me. I still struggle and get worried that someone won’t like me for this or that reason but I’m trying to see it like Todd (my husband) does. I accept you and I miss you. You always made me laugh. If it really matters, which it shouldn’t!! Right??
    I remember Pat very well. I hope life is great for him. Next time you talk to him, tell him hello from me.

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  5. Char says:

    Man…I love this letter. It spoke to many of my own thoughts and feelings. Thank you for your honesty and for making me remember my friend, Pat. I remember his smile–lighting a room.

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