Walking the tightrope (Part I) – If it be your will.

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I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve never been the best at interpersonal relationships. Be they friendships, family or the more emotional ‘significant other’ kind.

It seems like I’m forever walking the fine line of saying one wrong thing, placing a foot wrong, and alienating myself from people.

And this week has seen me hit a trifecta.

A good friend, someone I’ve known for over twenty years, whose happiness and security means more to me than I had previously thought, has had to deal with one of the worst times a person can deal with; the death of a family member.

The specifics are not important, and to be honest, not for me to share with the wider world. Suffice to say, when my friend shared a touching tribute, I had pretty well figured out what happened, but not wanting to be wrong when reading between the lines, I did something incredibly insensitive…

I asked what had happened.

On the back of a moment of reflection about a departed family member, where wounds are still open and the pain of loss so raw… well, let’s say for someone with a genius level IQ, I sure know how to be a complete idiot.

I can try defend myself … say something like “Now before you start to think the worst of me, understand that … blah blah blah”… but the simple fact is that whilst the lack of sensitivity was due, in part, to the ambiguous nature of text based communication, it’s no excuse. Nuances of speech, emotion, body language… these are all absent or open to the interpretation of the reader when using the written word, yes, but I should have been more attuned to the sensitivities of the situation. Whilst the written tribute had used a term of endearment that in my family applied to a great grandparent, at the end of the day, confusion does not excuse the transgression.

As though my performance of “I’m an insensitive prat” by Foot In Mouth wasn’t enough, my friend has had to deal with all manner of indignities in trying to bring the departed home for funeral services. Selfish family, uncaring flight staff making unilateral decisions with no sign of empathy or compassion… it’s further injustice to a situation that calls for a modicum of compassion and support.

Exactly where I failed in providing despite any well meant intentions I had.

And so now a good friend is, at best, disappointed with me… and at worst… well, I don’t even want to contemplate the possibility of losing a friend in such a way, especially one who lives their life with the kind of selfless abandon that I aspire to… a good person, with a big heart and more integrity and compassion than just about anyone I’ve ever met.

All I know is that I need to make things right… not because it eases my conscience, makes me feel better, or relieves this feeling of being gut-punched… but because it is the right thing to do; to help a friend when they need it most, unconditionally.

And I know, whatever is within my power to do so, I will find a way to make amends.

For now… I’ll simply offer the words and music of Leonard Cohen.

“If It Be Your Will”

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will
If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will

If it be your will.

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