George at the wedding reception of his oldest daughter, 25 years ago
My godfather is dying. He is 91, has had a
George is the father of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Judy. In Junior High and portions of High School (should those be capitalized?) Judy and her family were my salvation when my own family's cohesion cracked and crumbled through various stresses. I spent evenings at their dinner table and weekends at hockey games, attended church choir concerts, and melded into the patterns of their family life. Judy's family became my family, and the bonds formed in those adolescent days are as sinews of my being.
I haven't seen George in several years, and as I hold his being in my heart during these difficult days for him and his family I find myself fighting tears. My affection for him runs deep, although it is generally unexpressed. George doesn't really express feelings. Raised by an American father and Canadian mother, he is the epitome of the proper and convivial professional. A state prosecutor who moved into the honorable ranks of superior and then appellate court judge, his manner was controlled and his views tended toward the conservative. We saw many things differently, but I knew through the joshing over sherry and peanuts and the song into which he might break after dinner that he included me among the treasures of his life.
In spite of my clear liberal leanings, there are any number of people among my own treasured friendships that view the world differently than I do. Though the differences in our politics (and sometimes our theology) may breed certain tensions, there is never any question in my mind or my heart that my love and affection for these friends trumps any differences of that kind. It dawns on me now, with love ferried through tears, that George would say the same. This is an emotional awakening that I didn't know was dormant, but aware of it now it seems to open a door to understand other bonds of love unspoken or otherwise unexpressed in the usual ways.
It is a testament to the strength of love that though time may diminish contact, and even memories, its truth pervades distance of all kinds. As I begin to grieve a loss I find that within me there is an eternal presence that transcends loss. It resonates not only with what is divine and holy, but what joins us as human beings in relationship over time, space, and circumstances. Today grief bore me a gift. Tomorrow perhaps my heart may find a way to share that gift beyond the corner of my world.