Have you ever felt haunted by the way your relationships or physical surroundings change? On a recent trip to my home city, primarily to visit my family, I didn’t have a lot of time to plan and get in touch with old friends. I decided to send out and email and say that I would be at a Tim Horton’s coffee shop for a couple of hours if anyone wanted to drop by to catch up.
No one responded. I went to Tim Hortons feeling really vulnerable and strange. My self talk was full of self pity, feeling as if I was forgotten. Even though I hadn’t heard from anyone (all once very dear friends), I felt I had to honour my commitment to be there, in case someone did show up unannounced.
After sending a text message to my wife back in Vancouver, telling about my no shows, she had the presence of mind to give me a call right at the beginning of my solo time at Tim’s. She knew as well as I how lonely feeling forgotten could be, when you feel your place remembers you no more.
My spirits were lifted when I did get an email from one friend while sitting there alone. She said that their family wished they could make it, but couldn’t. The next day I met another one of the families I had emailed while attending my brother’s church. That afternoon another emailed later saying that he hadn’t opened the email until after the long weekend.
In some ways I totally didn’t expect anyone to come. I totally get it. They have busy lives, lots of kids, or even grandkids. It was Easter weekend after all. But when no one showed up, I felt kind of weird. While sitting there alone at a table for four I wrote this poem.
My place remembers me no more
Years go by, I come back to my city home,
Each time less familiar are streets I roam.
Sprawling suburbs and overpasses loom,
All expanding with an economic boom.
Do I dare say I truly know anyone here?
Friends I once lived with, felt so dear.
Age is etching on their long known face,
Those once energetic slowing in pace.
Rumours of failing health and old age death,
Generations of growing kids I know not yet.
I am shocked at how easy I feel out of touch,
Do I matter to my old friends that much?
I wonder, do my old friends even care?
Sitting alone at a table we once shared.
Friends in plenty I had here a time ago,
Not enough energy to track now and know.
I feel forgotten in the place I was sent,
Missing parts of me, lesions hard to mend.
My relational capacity, it feels so small,
My only social connection to kill time in a mall?
Busy with family, friends, and events I can see,
Take me far from old friendships that could be.
Disconnected, out of the loop, feeling left behind,
Impossible to keep on top of all social that binds.
Friends and their families busy on the move,
Striving to advance and their lifestyle improve.
Do tech and travel make it easier to connect?
Or are we substituting old friendship for internet?
Old friendships feel wilted as an unwatered flower.
I am tempted to give up, I have little relational power.
Fear overtakes when I am about to meet old friend,
Wondering if I am better or worse off than back then.
But my heart is comforted to know I am not alone,
By one who cares for me, secure on his throne.
My thoughts of being forgotten only phantom lie,
The maker and redeemer of my soul draws nigh.
Old and new friendships alike God will renew,
Resurrected to live, eat, and drink together anew.
I can accept my place remembers me no more,
When I ponder all my lasting friendships in store.