*Though its original version remains, this post was edited on October 31st, 2021 to begin disarming and abolishing contempt.
Dear Old Friend,
I call you old friend not because of the decades between us, but the decades our friendship has endured. I was but five years when my dog died under your care. I still remember that night, Bubba quivering in his dog house; the heartworm treatment turning fatal. Bubba, the large, loving Saint Bernard–German Shepherd cross left my life too soon, but you stepped in. My parents befriended you and you them, either by remorse or mutual respect, and you became a fixture in my life. Afternoons at your lake cabin, river rafting trips in Oregon and Idaho, picnics, bar-b-ques and fun runs. You gave me my first summer job at your veterinary clinic and taught me your simple technique of backing up a trailer. I was there to house-sit for you and babysit your nephews. I attended your wedding and you mine. I visited you and your wife after you had brought your daughter home from the NICU. The pride in your eyes, your voice to share that part of you with me I still remember. And I have followed you and your daughter throughout the decades. I have celebrated her accomplishments because of you. And you kept tabs on me and my family in our military moves around the country, the birth and growth of my boys, and my husband’s many deployments to war-torn nations. And when my oldest son graduated high school last June, you honored him with an unsolicited gift.
Just a year ago, you told me it might be better to get the Corona virus early on before the hospitals became full. We laughed then. But Covid-19, politics, and the media have shifted the world.
A few months ago, you chastised me for sharing an article about the rise in depression amongst student-athletes in the lockdowns. I, a mother of two teenagers–a college freshman revoked from his last nine weeks of high school and a high school sophomore, an outstanding student-athlete who needs his friends, his teams to connect – did not direct the share to you, but my concern you despised. You chastised me, telling me to “quit whining about football. Is it really that great?”
No, it isn’t, Old Friend. And yet, it is. Our youth are everything, and sports connect adolescents, reinforces, strengthens their mind, bodies, and characters. It is the mechanism in which children without great family lives learn of familial beauty, of the other parents and coaches looking out for them, of defending their brothers and sisters on the line. In sports, our youth work toward something greater than themselves.
All children have suffered from the lockdowns and online school. Teenagers are succumbing to suicide. But you refuse to acknowledge that our youth sacrifice for you and your generation. Instead, in some defensive denial, you tell me to take my kids skiing and parasailing.
Out of respect, I never called you a “baby-boomer”, but you are one. Just another selfish boomer who would sacrifice the future to eek out of a few more years. And what has happened over the last year has been only to serve you and your generation, Baby-Boomer. You lade decades of debt upon the future generations so you can lounge about your house, unconcerned of a pandemic.
My respect for you plummeted over those days. But I let it be, moving beyond, because my focus is not on you but of my family, protecting, shoring-up, and reinforcing my sons for the upcoming challenges.
But then you struck again, months later, messaging my husband. Your message was simple, unprovoked, but displayed your
selfishness fears. You told my husband, a retired military officer with over twenty-six years of service, who has deployed to many foreign countries, who bled for our country, who has picked pieces of his fallen brethren off the wind scoured sands of the middle east, who has been shot at, still suffers from his encounters with eight improvised explosive devises, and has killed in the name of your freedom. And you told him his view of freedom was “paid propaganda” and it was time to “unfriend” him.
Unfriend him? You and your wife unfriended us both and canceled decades of memories. You struck at our hearts, me and my children, my husband and his sacrifice, and retreated to your castle on the hill, discarding everything that was our old friendship.
The cancel culture, the cancer, has spread, infecting you. Just a year ago we worried about the virus, (laughing again) but the danger lied in your very soul. Unfortunately, the cancel culture, a cancer has spread in to you. But you have the strength to defeat it; you were always a kind soul. You live a charmed life, Boomer, never sacrificing for something beyond yourself. Keep safe, and may the view from solitude be beautiful. For you will be alone in the world, and your time short. Remorse will not mend bridge you unfriended.
I look forward to the day when we can embrace as friends, when we can find solace in our memories and commonality and appreciate our differences for what they may be. I look forward to the day when we abolish contempt.