This past New Years holiday, I spent the better part of the three-day weekend reconnecting with a dear friend from El Salvador, a place where I once called home. I had offered to help with his personal essay for an application and wound up quite involved in the whole writing and editing process. Sometimes to “reconnect” isn’t just chatting on the phone or seeing a friend face to face. Instead – I had, on my lap, my friend’s hopes, dreams, and what he wished as his next step in life more than anything else.

And I decided to show up for my part. I plugged myself back into his life, his world. You see – this is no regular friend. This is the BEST of friends, who played a huge role during the BEST time of my life…

I met Jose Roberto during my first of three years in El Salvador. A the age of 32, I moved to El Salvador not only for work but also to find my calling in life. I also had found no luck – well, bad luck yes – with meeting love in Washington DC, so I decided it was as good a time as any to living and redefining a more purposeful life.

At first our friendship was polite – I met him through my roommate, Debra, with whom he had just began dating. I had also met someone. When my relationship ended abruptly, Jose Roberto and Debra loved and cared for me. By the second half of year two and all of year three, I started my own consulting work, and worked for both of their companies. I grew to love them both and their work, deeply. In those years, I lived with a full heart where I defined who I was and wanted to be, and where friendship was all the love I needed.

Before you know it, it was time for me to go home. The week prior to my departure, Jose Roberto and I had a big miscommunication which led to a bigger fight. Some words were exchanged, and we were both left with hurt and feelings of abandonment.

We didn’t mend our friendship for two years after I returned to the US. And this is where each and every one of us have struggled in our lives, so I want you to “hear me now, and believe me later,” so to speak. Do not wait to reach out to someone to apologize or make amends: waiting has only ever caused yourself (and the other person) immense suffering. You know damn well what I’m talking about!

But more than that – I inadvertently delayed processing and reflecting on what was the best time of my life. You see, any time that you hold onto resentment, anger, pain, and fear, you hold yourself back from appreciating the person, the events, for what it truly is. The fierceness in life, in friendship, in work, and in play that I had during those three years- I have since struggled with finding or recreating because I have yet to trust myself for fear of getting hurt.

I cannot promise that the person you wish to mend your friendship or relationship with will be as generous as Jose Roberto and I have been with ours. I can promise that you will find some meaning and closure – if you decide to be brave about it. So perhaps pick your bravest day, consult your horoscope, whatever – by all means do make amends and do forgive.

Published by Angel Ling

Podcaster, storyteller, producer of 80 Minutes Around the World Immigration Stories storytelling show.

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