The letter I wish I'd sent
Dear Brendan, If only I'd known what you were going through at the time... but you must remember I had just started in that job and the role of community welfare officer was difficult.
Each day was different - each day bringing new challenges. When I got your letter, to be honest I didn't give it much thought: another weirdo - if I'm to be really honest! Wanting to meet me for 10 minutes after work - in the town car park.
Even if I did know you at any level, meeting in a car park would not have been an option. Plus I had ethical and data protection issues to contend with. I was but a wet week in the job, still on my probation, so it was imperative that I dot my 'i's' and cross my 't's'. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I probably would have gotten a colleague to come with me. If it were today, the mobile phone, texting or other social media would have made it easier. But that was 1980 and I was on a learning curve in my job. It was long before I had studied adult guidance or counselling. I never even checked to see what supports you had through that black period. But in 1980, we had no internet, no Facebook, no Twitter - I had only met you once at my clinic and, to my lifelong regret, I couldn't even remember what we talked about.