Gabriel had been changing. Certainly we were all changing, but Gabriel was … it’s hard to find the words for it now … hardening, perhaps? Even that doesn’t seem right. He wasn’t toughening up or getting stronger. He was turning to stone. I was worried about him. We still talked together often, but I was completely useless. I had no wise words, no helpful insight. I could be nothing but an open, non-judgmental listener. So, that’s what I tried to become. The only problem was that neither of us knew what to believe.
I listened as he talked about what he was going through. I heard his hopes and felt his fears. Sometimes I cracked jokes to lighten his mood. That may or may not have been helpful. I tried to be as much of a support as I could. I had never been through anything even distantly related. I almost wished that I had, just so I would have something worthwhile to offer. But, I hadn’t. So I listened. We drew together. He talked. I listened.
This went on.
Then it happened. Seemingly out of the blue, Gabriel had good news.
“I can turn in my papers!” He grinned, elated.
“What does that mean?” I asked, “Are you not a citizen or something? What papers?”
He was too happy to be annoyed by my ignorance, not that he was the type of person to be annoyed in the first place. “No! My mission papers! The bishop said I can apply to go on my mission!”
“Oh!” I breathed, “Wow! That’s huge! Congratulations! I don’t even know what to say! You’ve worked so hard and been through so much. I’m so glad that you get to go…”
Gabriel was beaming in a way that I hadn’t seen before. He was ecstatic. As far as he was concerned, he was cured. He had made it. Mount Everest had been overcome.
I truly was proud of Gabriel. No one deserved to get what they wanted more than he did. No one had worked harder or given more. He was so excited to finally be fulfilling his goal.
He looked visibly relieved, his shoulders finally relaxing after all the stress of his transformation. He still looked tired, though. His body retained that vaguely hollow feeling that he had obtained over the preceding months. He looked like someone who had just trekked across the arctic. He’d been through the emotional and spiritual equivalent of a civil war. But he had survived. He had succeeded.
The joy of his success carried him as he enthusiastically completed his paperwork. Our conversations took on a new tone, filled with guesses about where he would be called. This time with Gabriel gave me something new to consider. The preceding months had been excruciating for him, but he persevered because he believed that what he was doing was right. When was the last time I had done anything, just because it was right?
This is the latest installment in my story. If you haven’t yet read the previous entries, click here to start at the beginning. Then continue to read each post in numerical order.