Do I Impact You?

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

If you miss someone or something, it simply means they had an impact on your life. It’s an honor to be missed—absence, more than anything else, can show how connected we are to someone or something, even if we didn’t realize it. When they’re gone, they leave a gap, even if we choose to fill it with busy work or new people.

Flying By Night novelThere’s a little coffee shop and café that I miss, not so much for its yummy croissants as for all the things that happened there. Definitely the passing of an era. It closed about a year ago, and lunch hasn’t been the same since.
I first patronized the coffee shop, known as “Mr. Beans,” after hearing Vicki rave about it for a long while. I went occasionally with Vicki at lunch, but when I filed for divorce, I changed my work schedule so that I was off every other Wednesday. It became a tradition for us to meet for lunch there on my Wednesdays off and have a 2-hour chat session. We’d sit by the window in the sunshine or sometimes out on the sidewalk for a while to enjoy the day. Sometimes Jillian would lunch with me there, or my girls. By that fall, I was having to drive by there several times a week to take care of divorce paperwork “stuff” on my lunch hour, and—pressed for time—I’d often run through their drive-through.

There were birthday lunches, I-sold-a-book celebration lunches, I-just-signed-my-divorce-papers lunches, I’m-so-stressed-at-work-and-had-to-get-away lunches, and my trademarked I-met-someone-and-I’m-so-confused ™ lunches.

But the best part was sitting with Vicki and planning for the future. We’d talk about our books and about life and the girls and our hopes and dreams, all while sitting in the sunshine and watching out the window as the crows flew overhead. We still have those talks, but the venue has changed. But for me, that little café was an oasis in my dessert, and I miss the sense of nurturing that always took place there. It’s become, in my mind, a physical manifestation of that nurturing.

Not long ago, I heard from a high school friend I’d lost touch with after a teenaged tiff. I had no idea she missed our friendship, or me, or that my absence had left a hole in her life that she’d never filled. It took a lot of work—and a lot of courage on her part—to seek me out again.

So if we miss things—and people—that had an impact on us, what about those we don’t miss? I recently ran into several women I used to “do lunch” with at work, at least once a week with each one. They smiled big and suggested we go to lunch sometime. I had no interest in spending a lunch hour with any of them. Not anymore. They’d been a regular part of my life for years, but the work friendships had slipped away unnoticed. One had stood me up several times in favor of some other friend. Another wanted to talk only about her plan to get promoted and, on the day I told her I was getting divorced and wanted to talk about it, she cut me short because she didn’t want “to get stuck at the office even one minute past quitting time.” The other had too much focus on how she thought I should live my life, where I should work, whom I should see—and became angry whenever I didn’t take her unsolicited advice.

They were all such a huge part of my daily life until the past year, and now…nothing. They’ve all been gone for a while and I don’t miss them at all. I have no interest in reconnecting with any of them. I wonder if there was ever any connection at all.

And as for those we do miss, time allows us to feel the full impact of their impact on our lives, and time also allows us to find them again and feel the absence of absence. All we have to do is reclaim the joy that comes with appreciating what’s impacted us.