It seems one of those great facts of life (at least from the oh so experienced and aged near 33 year old perspective) that there is a constant stream of people entering your life. The flip side is that many of those people exit your life too. Sometimes that is just fine. Other times it is a really rather sad thing. There are several people that I have lost touch with that I'm a bit bummed I don't know what is going on in their lives. There are some people that it makes me sad that I don't really know them or know them well anymore. And there are a handful of people that I have serious regrets about having let slip out of touch. I find the last category very hard to re-engage with. The emotional hurdle is great. The internet makes finding people you have lost pretty easy in a lot of cases and I think that is awesome. My experiences and satisfaction with reaching out to old friends or acquaintances is a mixed bag. I have had pleasant exchanges where it is clear I will lose touch with the party again and indefinitely. I have re-engaged with people to the point that I exchange emails with them now periodically. I really like touching base with people from the past. It is an interesting view on how much I have changed and I really have known a lot of genuinely interesting people over the years and generally they are still fun and interesting when I check back in on them.
So the tie-in for Cancer Dad is that having a seriously ill child complicates this process a bit. Sometimes these exchanges can be a bit daunting anyway. "Hi, remember me? We fell out of touch, probably for a reason, but I thought that out of the blue I might drop you an email, tell you a bit about what I've been doing for the last decade, and hope that you might do the same in return." Most of the time the reception is really positive and friendly, but it is still a bit uncomfortable at times. So the fact that I have a kid with cancer is quite understandably a huge part of my life. Now change the above to, ""Hi, remember me? We fell out of touch, probably for a reason, but I thought that out of the blue I might drop you an email and tell you a bit about what I've been doing for the last decade. I got a job, got married, had kids, live in Colorado, and have a kid with a rare and deadly form of cancer. How have you been?" It isn't like I do this a lot, but every six months to a year or so I probably get the itch to touch base with someone. I take the approach of sending a short email hitting the highlights (mostly being married to a wonderful woman and having three incredible kids) on my goings on and leaving out the lowlights. Typically I get a very positive and detailed response in return. I just got one last week. It went something like, "I'm so happy that you have such a wonderful and happy family". Well, now I feel a bit like I lied through omission. I've been through this once before where I followed this formula. At just about this time I dropped the bomb and sent the, "Well, yes, I am happy that I have a wonderful family but I feel a bit odd about having omitted this one little detail...". I never heard back from that guy.
So here is the deal. I really don't care for the most part if the people I'm reaching out to can't or don't want to handle the fact that I have a seriously ill child. I would care if these were the people that I seriously regretted having lost contact with, but I can't work up whatever it is I need to reach out to them anyway. Some of these people were good friends though and I don't feel genuine having any type of relationship with them, even if it is a somewhat superficial email-based relationship, and leaving out something so fundamental and important to my life and who I am. I also don't want to appear like I'm trolling for sympathy or attention.
So, I guess I'll reach out to old lost friends periodically and just have to drop the bomb and see what happens.