Angela, a mid-level manager in a government office, attended a professional management conference on the other side of the country to sharpen her skills. While waiting for the opening session to begin, she struck up a friendship with a woman ten years her senior by the name of Catharina.
The two women spent most of the conference together. Catharina expressed interest in most of the same topics and sessions as Angela did. They met up for lunch and dinner and came to know a lot about each other—what cities they lived in, their careers up to that point, their personal and family circumstances. It had been a long time since Angela felt like she had a close friend, and it seemed Catharina was someone she could trust.
In fact, when she told Catharina about some private challenges, the other woman gave her some advice that turned out after the conference to alleviate them. Angela’s heart grew lighter, and her future looked better.
Angela made a point of staying in touch with Catharina—for a time. Over the next few years, they talked over video calls periodically, and then Angela started calling over the phone once in a while, and then texted only now and again. Catharina sent her a few texts several months apart letting her know how life was going and asking how Angela was doing. But Angela would forget to text her back. And then she convinced herself it had been too long, and she felt uncomfortable resuming contact with her friend.
Several more years passed with things going all right for Angela, but then circumstances took a sharp turn. A reduction in departmental budgets resulted in her being laid off from her job. Within days, a problem she thought she and her husband had resolved came to the surface, having festered in the meantime; he announced his intention to file for divorce and stormed out of their home. That weekend, while Angela struggled to figure out what to do, one of her sons broke his leg, and she had to rush him to the emergency room at the hospital. But without health insurance, how would she pay these bills on top of all the others?
Once her son was being attended to, Angela excused herself and ran out of the hospital. Unable to contain her emotions, she found a bench to sit on and wept into her hands.
What will I do? How am I going to take care of my kids? How will I make it?
Suddenly she thought of Catharina, her friend from years earlier. Could she call Catharina now? Would the other woman even want to talk to her? Angela hadn’t been very good at keeping up the relationship. With shame burning her cheeks, she realized that she had used their relationship when it suited her but had dropped it when it was no longer useful or convenient.
He hands shook as she pulled her phone out of her pocket, found Catharina’s number, and tapped the call button.
Please don’t have changed your number. Please, please answer.
The ringing stopped.
Angela couldn’t speak.
“Angela, is that you? How are you?”
Angela could do nothing but cry.
“It’s been a long time, Angela,” Catharina’s strong, sweet voice said, “but I’m so glad you called. I’ve missed our friendship. Tell me what’s happened. I’m here to help.”
Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com
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