Miracles Happen

 Her hand is extended in friendship. The gesture is genuine and wanting. I place my hand in hers, taking it ~ touched by the gesture and the sisterhood implied. But another part of me is cautious, not because of her. I am cautious because of the courage a real friendship requires. I am a coward in this area, afraid of what will be asked of me. Not asked, maybe but demanded. I must be honest, dead honest to be close. I am so easily hurt and the sting is lasting. It feels so hard to say, “When you did that, I felt this. It felt ungenerous. Did you mean to hurt me?” I have chosen instead to be distant all these years.

My oldest sister did mean to hurt me. She schemed and planned. It was her occupation and she was masterful. How can we leave Karen out, she wondered. How can I get rid of her? She formed groups of exclusion. Oh Karen, we were just talking about what we were all going to do, and we all decided that we did not want you to be part of it. We think you wouldn’t be of much use.

What was it in her that needed to destroy me and why? This older child who hated me was my care-giver and only available parent. We’re old women now, but the relationship remains, except I no longer engage in opening or extending. She still waits coiled and ready to strike. I ask in gestures and words. Can we stop this yet? Can we give this up? The answer is, No. Her position is set.

 What I had not fully realized is how this relationship has colored my ability to reach towards others. How quietly and subtly I have folded my hand behind my back or deep inside my pockets, when the thing my heart needed most was to extend forward, placing the warmth of another’s willingness inside the courage of my own. Honesty is required. I must speak and not be silent to create what I desire. I must risk that my words will fall on gentle soil.

Why does love require such courage?

Love should wash over us naturally and with ease the way the sun rises each morning or the way water laps gently and consistently against the shore.

Maybe love is that way after all, once our fears are put to rest and our wounds healed. Maybe in the end, it’s all that easy; but for me, I’m thinking probably not. For me, I will need courage, honesty and willingness. Maybe I can do that more easily now. Maybe miracles do happen.

written 7-27-08

Absolutely!!!

I got an email a few days ago from my friend, Dorie, whom I have not heard from for more than a year. The subject line read, Absolutely!!!

She was responding to a thank you card I had mailed after our last luncheon, probably unearthed on her desk, while doing her annual guilt-driven clean-up. Dorie is a painter and designer. She also creates unique handbags and whimsical mittens. Her spirit is fresh and optimistic, as she divides her time between art, grand-children and caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s.

Absolutely!!!

I had requested we meet again for lunch, soon. The word ‘soon’ being relative in her busy world. I searched my emails to see if I had written her recently and forgotten. Then, I remembered last year’s thank you note. I imagined my card being lovingly read and discarded on her craft table, slipping with the best of intentions below new fabric samples, buttons, shimmering yarns and products that didn’t meet her standards. She emailed her reply like I’d sent the card in yesterday’s mail; as if no time had gone by at all.

Absolutely!!! Karen Dear Friend, let’s meet for lunch, for coffee or everything. Getting together with you is an enormous treat. I miss you. Then she went on to say that a friend of hers had died recently so she was waking up to the value of friendships and wanting to keep in touch.

Ah yes. Death ~ nature’s wake-up call.

I was a new bride in my twenties when I had a similar experience. An older woman helped us find our first house in Circleville, Ohio, home of the pumpkin festival… we won’t go down that road. I wanted to have her to dinner as a thank you gesture and to deepen our connection into friendship, but not until the house was perfect. I thought about her often, but the bedroom needed paint. I wanted to replace the sofa. The house needed to be just so when she came, so she could ooh and aah, in appreciation of all we’d done. A year had slipped by before I learned she died.

Suddenly, it all felt very shallow; the rugs, the paint, the dust in the corners, all just stuff. I had missed her without knowing, as I preformed my vain attempts at perfection. She was a ship leaving the shore of my life with treasures of spirit I would never see again. A hard lesson, but a valuable one. I wish I had sent her a letter, or better yet, knocked on her door. I wish I had said, Absolutely!!! Dear lady, Come over for lunch, for coffee or everything. Getting together with you is an enormous treat. I would miss you if you were not here.

written August 14, 2008