A new day. One with a clearer, brighter complexion. The blemishes are there – they always are – but today they are less conspicuous, less alarming. Yesterday, I was rattled. Beyond rattled. I wrote a post about my very good and very pregnant friend who is in the hospital battling pneumonia topped with likely swine. In that post, I marveled at how quickly things can change, how hope and fear can wax and wane, how little control we sometimes have. And, today, I am thankful for time and its unpredictable and lovely jig. Today is better.
Today, my friend’s husband sent an email updating us and thanking us for being there. He told us that my friend had a much better night, that she actually slept, and has been able to walk around this morning. In the middle of his email, he called me out, he wrote my name. He thanked me for my post.
Words. He thanked me for my words. And I read his words, his email, his thank you, over and over. I let them soak in. I let them penetrate. And I realized that his words changed me, something in me, they made this day okay. And my words, my honest and humble words, affected him, helped him, touched him. In some small way. Words matter. They do.
And he had more words for us. More powerful words. My friend’s husband said: We all spend so much time together between classes, parties, play visits etc.. but when something serious like this happens everybody really showed how much love and support there really is between all of us.
Time. Love. Support. These things matter. Deeply. Time does its thing, marching on, flitting by. Love happens, emerges, unfolds. Support is offered and accepted and expected. But often, too often, we take these things for granted. That there will always be a surplus of time. That love will shroud us and sustain us. That support will be there, sturdy and strong, when we most need it. And it is when we most need it, in those impossible hours, that the truth reveals itself. That true friends reveal themselves.
True friends. They call and cry and concoct imaginative ways to help. They rally and listen and act. Like time and love and support, true friends are not a given. They are an exquisite privilege, more brilliant than the most perfect stone. True friends shine when the world doesn’t.
And then there are those more magical times, happy times when true friends come through and come together. At birthdays and weddings and when a baby is born. Or many babies. Several years ago, I met three girls in the halls of an esteemed law school. We stared each other up and down, we traded superficial smiles. And then came the words. We talked. We talked about life and the law. We talked about exams and interviews and jobs. Together, we sipped wine and swallowed wisdom. Together, we survived, graduating into a world, a wild and winsome world. In time, life did its thing, separating us geographically and professionally. But we stayed together. True friends do.
And now. There are babies. Beautiful baby girls. Five among the three of us. (Seven if you count our other good friend who was unable to make the trip). Five baby girls. Each one unique and alive and thriving. Five different smiles. Five different personalities. Five different people. And each of these babies, each of these tiny creatures, was at our place last night. We all gathered for a casual and baby-friendly meal of Thai takeout. And there were tears and spit-up and moments of utter mayhem. Of course. But there was also wine and words.
We sipped wine, just like we did in the old days, and traded words. Exasperated words, well-worn and lovely. About how much has changed. About how we used to spend hours discussing happiness and contemplating career paths and imagining our futures. And now, here we were, entrenched in the very futures we both hoped for and could never have imagined, talking about parenthood and personhood, about breastfeeding and bottles, about life. New life. Good life. We told stories, new and old. We laughed. So hard we worried about waking whatever baby was sleeping at the time.
Over the course of the night, I periodically checked my BlackBerry for word about my friend and her condition. My mind, my disobedient and rattled and emboldened mind, zoomed between concern and celebration. But this is life, isn’t it? The wilderness between concern and celebration?
And today? Today is my oldest and best friend’s birthday. This friend has been there through it all. A little over a year ago, on the eve of her wedding, this friend gave me an engraved copy of “Charlotte’s Web” that I keep on my bedside table and flip through when I want to remember childhood and Dad and the wisdom of a certain friendly spider. Happy Birthday, M! I love you more than you know.
Words. Time. Love. Support. True Friends.
These things matter. Deeply.
And on this chilly Saturday morning, I am thankful to have these things in abundance. Genuinely thankful. Thankful for the reminders, however startling and scarring, that life is both beautiful and precarious. And now, I will get back to my life. I will go collect the scattered toys and sip coffee and nibble on Baby toes. I will make a birthday call. I will check up on a certain mommy-to-be. I will reunite with true friends and tiny babies on a certain university lawn. It should be a good day.
Thoughts? Comments? Birthday wishes?