At 3:05, as I was getting ready to send him a text asking if something came up or if he wanted to reschedule (which I doubted he would), there was a faint knock on my door.
“Come in”, I called to the closed door behind me. As it opened, I saw him standing there, grinning sheepishly and slinking into my office
“Sorry I’m late”, he mumbled while avoiding eye contact with me and flopping down onto a comfortable place on my leather couch.
“It’s okay”, I assured him. I shut the lid on my laptop, stowed my phone in the top desk drawer, and moved to my usual chair across from him. I smiled, “I’m glad you came”.
“Well, that makes one of us” he laughed, looking past me toward the clock on the wall.
“It can be really difficult to come for the last session, especially given what we talked about last week, but I think it took great courage for you to do it despite all that. And I think it can be really helpful to put a bookend on this whole process”.
“Yeah”, he said, “I thought about not coming, just avoiding your calls, saying something came up…”
“But you didn’t”, I reminded him, gently. The small talk could go on for the whole hour, if I allowed. He was nothing if not charming and could skirt around the issues at hand with ease. But we both knew there was work to be done. The silence hung heavily in the space between us, and I decided to break the polite chatter. “Were you able to bring the homework that we talked about?”.
“Um, yeah. I did. But I don’t know if I did it right or…if it makes any sense…I don’t know…”, he trailed off. He stood up off the couch for a moment and pulled a folded piece of lined notebook paper from his back pocket. He handed it to me as he sat back down, “here.”
I looked at him incredulously, “and what do you think I am going to do with this?”
“I don’t know. Read it, I guess?”
I laughed. “I could do that. But Nick, this assignment was for you, not for me. It was something I thought would help give you some closure on everything that we have discussed.”
“I don’t know if it was helpful. I mean, I wrote it, and that was really hard to do, but I’m not sure what it changes”.
I handed the paper back to him “That’s a fair point. But I had another idea for this. I was hoping, instead of having me read it, that maybe you could read it aloud, and see if speaking the words has any kind of different impact”
He furrowed his brows, uncertainty in his eyes, perhaps wondering if it was too late now to leave, or to pretend he accidentally brought the wrong paper from home. He thought for a moment and responded, “you mean like read it to you?”
“Well, here’s what I was thinking”, I said as I got up from my chair. I pulled the chair from behind my desk and sat it down near me, making a triangle of the three of us. “I wonder if you would be willing to read it as if the person you have written it to is sitting here with us. Because really, this is between you and him, right? I’m not really apart of this, I’m just here as a witness, a support”.
He shrugged, “I guess I can give it a try.” He carefully unfolded the paper in his hands and I could see his hands shaking as he did so. He breathed a heavy sight and ran his hands through his hair, trying to steady his voice and his nerves as he began.
“Dear Lou”, he glanced at me and then turned his gaze to the chair on my right.