I was treated to lunch Wednesday by two good friends, Tonja and Deborah, that I have known from separate realms of my life, but who found each other (through a different realm, by the way) and realized later that they both knew me. I love it when the world is small like that. I never get over the thrill of discovering that there are little connections among us, binding us to each other.
The best part of lunch was when Deborah invited me to her wedding which took place just about eight years ago. She pulled a white envelope out of her purse and handed it to me. On it was an old, old address of mine (we weren’t living there at the time) and a yellow postal sticker requesting a return to sender. In the rush of pre-wedding madness, she hadn’t been able to track down an updated address for me and therefore I never received an invitation to her wedding.
I remember hearing about her wedding and thinking it was strange that I never got an invitation, but I didn’t dwell. Deborah is not the sort to slight anyone. No harm done in my book.
But Deborah felt bad. So bad, in fact, that she kept the invitation for EIGHT YEARS! When we finally got in touch again several months ago, she confessed this wedding invitation gaffe and apologized. Then on Wednesday, she made final amends by handing me the envelope, which was in amazingly good shape.
“I just felt so bad for so long,” she said.
I assured her that I never did and never will harbor bad feelings about it, and that this was nothing in comparison to the terrible thing I had done in relation to my wedding—I never sent out thank you cards for my gifts. That’s right. I never sent them out. In fact, I never wrote them. OK, I wrote some of them, but only a very small percentage.
I confessed this to Deborah, Tonja, and the chips and salsa at our table. They both laughed (Tonja and Deborah, that is; the chips and salsa were speechless) and Tonja surprised me by saying, “Neither did I!”
Wha, wha, wha???
Tonja is one of the most thorough, efficient, organized, responsible, and kind-hearted people I know. (And that is saying something, because I happen to know a lot of thorough, efficient, organized, responsible, kind-hearted people.)
I instantly felt better. I was in good company at least in my regretful wallow. I tried to explain to them about how overwhelming the process had seemed to me. People had been so generous at our wedding and there were so many of them! When I started writing, I filled each card’s inside and backside with my gratitude, and before long I was exhausted and overwhelmed to the point that it halted me completely. I knew that most people’s thank you cards said something like, “Dear [So-and-so], Thank you for the [item/money]. We love it. Love, [bride and groom]” but I couldn’t bring myself to do it that way. It seemed so flat and insincere, so instead I sent no acknowledgment of their kindness whatsoever. Brilliant.
Tonja agreed, but she didn’t seem to be nearly as haunted by this as I am.
“Really,” she said, “do you ever think about the thank you cards you get? Or don’t get?”
“Good point,” I said.
“It’s not like anything is going to happen if you don’t send them out,” she said.
“Except that we are going burn in hell for eternity,” I said.
Right, except for that. We laughed and talked and ate and assured each other that we were still good people regardless of these silly blunders from our past. In fact, the more I think about it, I doubt anybody is checking their mailbox today to see if I am finally going to thank them for that cheese grater.
But, just in case any of you out there attended my wedding, I have a few things to say:
Thank you for attending my wedding and for giving such a considerate gift. I was overwhelmed with your generosity and thoughtfulness. Thank you for joining with my other friends and family to give me and Ryan such a wonderful start to our new life together. And please forgive this message for being approximately eleven-and-a-half years late.
Wow. I feel a little better, as if the flames of hell just got turned down to “Mild Burn” from “Flesh-Eating Scorch.” Lunch with friends can be so therapeutic. My thanks to Tonja and Deb!
Now, while we’re at it, let’s hear what dumb, regretful things you’ve done. Misery loves company.