The Good People Are Always Near

My health insurance was cancelled. Cathy received a certified letter with the ominous message, “It has been brought to our attention that you and Paula Williams are divorced. Paula William’s health insurance will end on January 31, and you are required to send us a divorce decree. You will be required to repay anything paid on her behalf between the date of the divorce decree and the date of the cancellation.”

Cathy called the next morning and told the administrator of health services that we are, in fact, very much married, and the administrator said, “I know you’re not because it’s all over the Internet.” Cathy was aghast, “Since when did the Internet become the arbiter of what is and what is not true?”

The administrator wouldn’t listen to Cathy. She said Cathy had to send a letter stating that we are still married, which we accompanied with proof that we are still married. How do you prove you are still married when you just celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary 16 days earlier?  We sent a copy of our marriage certificate, a copy of my name change, and a copy of the cover sheet of last year’s taxes, with the amounts redacted. (I wouldn’t trust someone who says “it’s all over the Internet” with the amounts of our income.)

Hate mail comes in waves. I can avoid most of it. I spot it before I even open it. Several messages have gotten through of late. They always reference my selfishness, the eternity I will spend in hell, and the immutability of gender. Yep, almost all of them are from evangelicals. Add to that the fact that someone took it upon themselves to inform the Bay Shore, Long Island school district that our marital status should be researched, and you realize there are a lot of people out there who want to make my life difficult.

It’d be laughable, but it’s not. I almost lost my health insurance. We’re still missing over $1600 in reimbursements from the school system that were required to have been sent by December 31. And the condescension Cathy experienced from the health services administrator left her in tears. I can usually blow off that kind of ugly stuff, but this was harder than usual, both because of the blatant and combative nature of it, and because it was aimed at Cathy as well as me.

So, all of that happened. But so did other things. Three friends reached out to me just to let me know they are thinking of me. Most put hearts of various colors next to their messages. I had wonderful text exchanges with my co-pastors, and with the chair of our church board. One of my long-time friends who works for American Airlines made sure Cathy and I got out of town before a snowstorm so we could get to a long-awaited vacation in Hawaii. Cathy and I had an amazing weekend with our daughters and their daughters at a wonderful resort in Colorado the weekend before leaving for Hawaii. And the Hawaii trip was everything we hoped it would be.

I am blessed. Beyond the health insurance fiasco and the hate mail, I have a rich and rewarding life. At the foundation of that life are a lot of good people:


The good people are always near

If you have eyes to see them

Though often they are cloaked in

Garments of some old failure


Their goodness like beams of light

Passing through a cracked door

Falls slant on hidden places

Where all the deep wounds lie


Pain knows pain and will not let

Its long and sordid tale abide

Treating wounds with gentle touch

The sisterhood of suffering


Goodness travels well

Turning up in peculiar places like

Your own heart when you thought

You had nothing left to give

10 thoughts on “The Good People Are Always Near

  1. We’re so sorry you’ve had to defend yourself in “Insurance War” where an individual is under attack for living authentically. We send good wishes and arrows to fill your quiver.


  2. Hang in there, Paula. Some people thrive on trying to steal our joy. Don’t let them. Keep living and loving like EVERYONE IS WATCHING. Be Blessed.


  3. See on a red table talk you announced your wife initiated divorce and so of course that’s confusing. So does it mean she came back (Yay for you right?) ? Maybe that’s were the confusion came from? Now that’s no reason to unleash hell on you, like you haven’t suffered enough. I don’t know what it is with people but once they have targeted you they are just relentless, the Terminator way. And a lot of people think they are immune to it because they “are the good guys” but that’s just a varnish and once they feel allowed by the group to terrorize you they just go for it like it’s a black Friday deal. I have seen a TED talk on you and I am translating it so other people can learn about you! I always research my subject to get the work done right . You take that path less travelled to another level let me tell you! Just be brave I guess? You seem to be a genuine person, I like you.


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