Bumping into the Past


I bumped into a childhood friend last night in the mystery section of my favorite bookstore; someone I haven’t seen in close to twenty years. I didn’t recognize him at first. Unfortunately, time had not been kind to him. When I asked how he recognized me, he answered without hesitation, “Your red hair of course.” Of course. It’s always the hair.

He continued, “Although, I wasn’t certain it was really you at first. You don’t look quite the same.” I sure hope I look different. High School was a long time ago. I must have given him a questioning look, because he went on to tell me it had nothing to do with twenty years of aging. He said my face, my eyes, and my hair, though a little darker and a littler redder, were just as he had remembered. It was the way I carried myself now that threw him. I seemed lighter somehow, he mused, free…more. I carried myself stronger than before.

He went on to say he remembered my mom being sick when we were growing up and how he always thought that was a lot to carry for a kid and how he knew it must have hurt more than I let on.

I was shocked. I mean, this guy and I grew up together, but we weren’t exactly good friends. How could he have possibly seen all of that when we were kids? And still remember? I didn’t even recall being on his radar back then, on anyone’s radar actually. I was a mess, just trying to survive the fallout of my life at home.

After chatting for a few minutes about what we’d been up to and about the series of spy novels we were both perusing, we parted ways. But before he turned the corner to meet up with his family, he called back. “You know, I knew you’d figure out eventually what others saw buried in you. Glad to see it on the surface now.”


As I drove back to my apartment, this encounter left me reeling at bit. I missed so much over the years, trying so desperately to protect myself. A lot. I was totally clueless.

Sometimes we are so busy surviving, so busy just trying to get through to the next day, we can completely miss ourselves. We can miss seeing how much we’ve changed and grown as people.

We can miss our own transformation.

On occasion, bumping into the past is a good thing. It can be a revelation. Sometimes the past can open our eyes to see the storm we thought would eventually overtake us, in reality, was the fire that refined us. It was the beautiful pressure that burned away our darkness and became the light we didn’t realize we weren’t hiding anymore.

O, dark sorrow,
You rise in such
Destructive waves.

I thought to resist you,
In the beginning;
To fight back against
Your torrents.

O, dark sorrow,
You had another plan for me.

I thought then to surrender,
To become a part of you.

And never realized,
I found my light instead.

Chelsey Whitlow


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