Dear Inner Circle,

From about fifty feet away, a booming voice yelled, “Is the complaints department open yet?” “No” I responded, unable to match the volume coming at me. “I never take complaints before the first cup of coffee”. The voice could register on the Richter scale and I wasn’t sure it was friendly until I was right beside a bloke that looked like he’d lived rough for a long time. Although the face was uncared for, a smile communicated wonderful warmth. I sat beside him and it became clear that he was just happy to talk to me for a while. When I got up to walk away, he said, “I’ll save my complaints for another day”.

How disappointing love can be. I remember when my son was little, after a rough day I’d rushed home without a chance of buying him one of the little surprises that I’d normally have with me. He searched my pockets and could hardly believe that he found nothing. I tried to calm him by saying, “Dad doesn’t have any lollies or surprises today, I only have love.” He threw the biggest tantrum imaginable. Countless times since then I’ve brought discontent when all I had to offer was love not lollies; presence not presents. It’s especially hard when someone asks me to fix something that I’d desperately love to fix. Then I’m a disappointment to myself. When my son died, I was helping his widow get the kids through the bath one evening and our four-year old looked at me with a hopeful face that I will never forget. “Can you bring my Daddy back?” she asked. I was shot in the heart and stayed that way for days because there is nothing in this world I wanted to do more than bring her Daddy back. It took me ages to realise that I could do no more for this precious girl than I could do for anyone else. I could only be with her. I was living in the shock. I was living in the disconnect of the unthinkable. I was living in the powerlessness and the broken heartedness of love. How I wish I was superman, faster than a speeding bullet, but I’m only a man. I’ve shared all this before but this week on several occasions, people have looked into my face, looking for magic and have been disappointed to discover only love.

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