This past week was fast and furious. My wife, my youngest son, and I had a great time in Dallas. We all attended the National Hemophilia Conference, each of us with your own agendas. Cazandra and her wonderful team at Optioncare worked their *&*(&* off, MacDonald the Younger met with children his own age who have hemophilia, and I took some much needed time to relax. In the middle of my time away, I managed to finish editing my final project from a class that I took in June. If the professor approves my project, I only have three classes to go, the dissertation, and then my title will include a Dr.

I had several experiences while I was gone that caught me by surprise. The first was the feelings of anxiety that I had at the very beginning of the conference. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so uncomfortable and out of place. I seemed to be angry at everything. I complained about the enormity of the venue, the conference including a singer from American Idol, who seemed to think that dads were not part of the equation when it came to caring for their children, and then the realization that I was so disconnected from my own community that I felt like I had no place to be a part.

Of course, all of these stressful triggers seemed to fade into the background when I really discovered what was at the source of my discomfort. The last national conference that I attended was in 2011 in Chicago. I left that conference to fly to Houston, to be with my mother as she had surgery to replace a heart valve. Within two weeks after that conference, my mother was dead. Without realizing it, all of those memories came flooding back to me, and I found myself needing to grieve a little bit.

We all know how those “firsts” are after the death of a loved one. They are extremely difficult to process, and the only way you move past them is to move through them. I thought I was done with “firsts,” but this one had been left undone. I gave thanks for my mother, and gathered with new friends, old friends, and every connection in between.

The rest of the conference was about reconnecting with people that I have known for many years. People who truly know my history and struggles in the earliest diagnosis of hemophilia. Being around my “Houston Folk” reminded me that no matter where I go, I share a wealth of love with some amazing people who love me in spite of myself. That connection is real, powerful, and life affirming. I found myself thanking God for my old friends.

Praise be to God that we are a people who long for connection, who need to know that there are others out there who genuinely care for us and our unique journey. I believe that is the source of our faith. Our relationships with others keep us grounded. We are secure in the love of others, to be bold enough to reach out and make a difference in the world. Understanding that if we fall, our community will rally around us, and love us back into wholeness. Praise be to God, who reminds me everyday of the importance of friendship.

Published by joekmac

I am a pastor in the United Methodist Tradition. I am the Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Belen in the New Mexico Annual Conference. I am married to Cazandra and have two sons with hemophilia.

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