I received an email the other day from someone I haven't heard from in about two years. The last time she contacted me, it was to tell me that she was deleting her Facebook page and her email addresses and that I shouldn't take it personally. She has a serious bone disease that makes many everyday tasks difficult for her, and, at the time, her husband had been laid off. She was deleting her accounts and cutting off contact because, she wrote, they had received some nasty emails from people (ignorant people, I believe) who thought my friend and her husband were freeloaders and slackers.
Well, I couldn't understand, at the time, why I had to be included with that group, since I had always been supportive of her situation, but I couldn't fault her, exactly, for wanting to withdraw from the fray.
A few days ago, I was included in a mass mailing from this person, asking me to donate to enable her to receive a helping dog. The email explained the costs of training the dog, and it urged me to give what I could to make her life easier.
I think (hope?) I've always been something of a generous person. I don't generally keep score--you did this for me, so I will do that for you. I don't keep track of who paid last at the restaurant, and I'm always ready to chip in or pick up the tab, whatever I need to do. I try to be a friend in every sense. If someone needs to bitch, I'm there to listen. If I can help, I will.
I'm sitting here, beating myself up, because I resent that email. I resent that, now that this person needs monetary help, she's re-established contact with me, when she hasn't emailed me in two years. Did she ask me how I was doing? No. Did she apologize for cutting me out? No. The email seemed to suggest that I was one of her best friends, someone who would be willing to support her endeavor.
Should I be? I don't mind helping people, but I get a bit cross when they only contact me when they need something--mostly money--especially when they could care less about me, or my circumstances.
I guess I need to read Thomas Merton, or Rilke, or someone who can chip away at that hard part of my heart. I should be more generous, shouldn't I? I should not think of the past, especially when a small gift of money could make a difference. I need to meditate on this and examine myself seriously to find out why this one email has twisted me around so much.