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Mending Fences

A little bit of happy news for once.

I took a huge step towards mending fences on Friday, one I never thought I'd take. I'd been trying to find the number to the current chief engineer of my former college radio station for four years. Every time I'd google the station, I'd call the number given to me, leave a voicemail, and never hear back. The website for the station is a tad outdated, making things a little more difficult as well.

So, I went a different route on Friday on a whim, looking for the station through my alma mater's website, to find that the number I needed differed from what I'd been calling all these years. I decided it was now or never, dialed the number, and she immediately picked up. We'd worked at the station together twenty years ago, long before she'd been invited to be the chief engineer, and it was quite surreal to hear her voice again. She also seemed surprised to hear from me!

We spent nearly an hour catching up. In that conversation, she'd explained that she was asked to be the new chief engineer, not because her predecessor and mentor, a BRILLIANT yet bitter man, had quit and chosen her to be his successor, but because he was forced into medical retirement, being blinded in his left eye via multiple centimeter long tumors in his brain. Despite the hatred I held for this man since I officially left the station in early 2007, I suddenly felt horrible for him and asked her to send him my number. With my current diagnosis, I knew it'd be interesting to hear his take on things.

I was leaving my ENT's office when he surprised me by calling me. We spent a good half an hour talking, with him providing me with the details of his diagnosis, how he knew NOT to go to a local hospital for this, and subsequent events such as finally finding the true cause of his chronic back problems and his life post-retirement and disability. I told him about my own tumor, which I clearly caught early compared to when he found out about his tumor the hard way (I won't discuss that).

If there was one thing I noticed in his tone, and his words, it was that he truly seemed happier. While telling him about my plans thus far, he advised me not to focus on winning the war, but rather to focus on one battle at a time; that if I focused on the whole war, I'd overwhelm myself. This was not the angry, smart-assed, bitter man I knew twenty years ago! "Ok, who are you?", I asked. "I'm someone who came out through the other side", he replied. We even took a moment to somewhat patch things up between us. I told him that while he held a grudge against me when I left, one that I did deserve, I still respected him, to which he replied that he never forgets those who pulled their weight in the station, and to understand that he was the hardest on the ones he respected and knew could do better. That blew my doors off, as I understand that now at 40 far more than I did at 22. I didn't tell him that I found out I have autism, which absolutely would've made things clearer to him regarding my mannerisms in those days.

We said our goodbyes for now after he told me he was always a phone call away should I need a sounding board or someone to talk to regarding my tumor. We hung up, and even though I was still driving, the stress of my tumor (and the terrible hormonal effects it's causing!) and the gravity of what I'd just done hit me hard and I began crying loudly in my car. I dropped a big bag of rocks that I'd been carrying around for over seventeen years. Did I cry because I just made an ally with the most unlikely of people? Did I cry because I somewhat mended fences with the guy? Or did I cry because I stepped out of my comfort zone of isolation, deciding to be the better person by reaching out to him?

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