"If you don't come to see me anymore, what will you do for money?"
Mark's question, blunt as it was, came out of the blue.
"Why do you ask?" I was curious.
"Because I don't think I need you to come and see me anymore. I think it's OK now. But I don't want you to not have any money so you can keep coming if you want." Nice of him to be concerned, but he clearly didn't understand how the whole thing worked.
"I'll still have a job and I'll still get paid." I told him.
"OK," he said, looking at me intently waiting for me to respond.
My involvement with him had definately been long term. We'd had our ups and downs and he kept throwing curves that no-one was ever able to catch. I liked him. He annoyed the hell out of me sometimes, but I liked him. As I sat there thinking I had to really ask myself about where we were, as therapist / client, I wondered to myself if our weekly meeting had become more 'habit' than 'helpful'.
As I didn't answer right away, he spoke up, "Did I hurt your feelings?"
Did he? I wondered. No. I was sure of that.
"No, Mark, I'm just thinking about what you said. About how you don't need me to come by anymore and I think you might be right."
A smile spread across his face, "I'm doing good now aren't I?"
"Yes, you are," I said.
"And if you don't come anymore they'll know that it's me doing good, right?"
He was, of course, right. The responsibility for his improved behaviour, his improved relationships and his improved attitude toward life would become his own. Every day that passed would become his individual success ... not to be shared with me ... his own. He deserved that. He deserved to own his days, own his success and own his future.
I ran into Mark years and years later. He'd moved cities and agencies, he'd grown a lot but still had the twinkle in his eyes that let me know that he was probably still a handful. We ran into each other when I was walking out of a grocery store on a holiday visit to family.
"David Hingsburger," he said, never having the ability to call me just Dave, "how are you?"
Joe, who was walking with me looked warily at this guy who was approaching with speed but he could tell by the look on my face that it was OK.
"Mark, I'm fine. You?"
He told me what he was up to, man he was virtually independent. Not a staff in sight. He looked wonderful. I introduced him to Joe saying, "This is the guy that fired me ..."
Mark leapt in, "I didn't fire you."
"Yeah, Mark, you did."
"No, I didn't I just didn't have any more work for you."
I remember watching Mark walk away into the world.
He didn't look back.
I wonder now if that's what my purpose was ... to work towards the day that I stand still ... and they walk away.
I think, perhaps, that it was.
That it is.