Friendships — the real, legit kind — surprise me sometimes. I think I know how I will be or give or take from those friendships… but it’s not until things get real that I really do know.
My closest friend in the world has had some amazing blessings in her life. And she has also lived the worst kind of tragedy. And I have lived from afar for most of it. But still, there is this visceral reaction to her emotions and experiences that just doesn’t seem at all eased by distance. Weird.
Have you ever had a friend like that? The kind that you never see but you would jump in front of a train for without even knowing that you have?
When tragedy struck for her, my reactions were unexpected but I suppose not surprising. I wanted to be exactly by her side as if there was a way I could absorb some of the pain, buffer it, distract it, just (oh God please) STOP it. I remember thinking that it felt like a piano was falling on her over and over. And while jumping in front of that piano wouldn’t protect her pain, there was a chance I could stop even the tiniest, slightest bit and share it and take some fraction of it on so that she wasn’t alone in that deep well of pain. I wanted to be right there, but I also wanted to take up the least amount of space. I didn’t want to be anything else she needed to care for or explain to or think about.
A protective, pain-sharing, invisible shield. With the very best intentions.
I don’t think I protected her one little bit. I do think I was in the way a little. But she graciously allowed me in that space. There was enough piano pain for everyone, you know.
And now, a very wonderful blessing has arrived into her life. Oh, you guys, she is the best, sweetest kind of blessing. 8 lbs, 12 ounces of joy with a helping of her mama’s dimples.
I spent a lot of time Facetiming my friend tonight, only just barely home from the hospital.
Have you had baby? If so, do you remember those first days when your milk comes in and all hell is breaking lose in your body, things no one can see but… WHOA… shit is getting real, you know? And still, everyone wants to celebrate that wee one, and be there, and “help.”
Once again, she graciously let me in. And I was with her when she really just needed alone time. And a handful of Motrin and, sweet mother of God, some sleep.
It’s funny, now that so much good is happening, I almost feel like I want to step back (which is not too hard to do this far away). Again, I am having unexpected but not surprising reactions to this GOOD. I feel like I want to leave her in it. I want to make space for as much joy as possible to come rushing in and wrap her all up. I don’t want to take ANY of it for me. I don’t want to step in front of it or stop it or experience it for her. SHE GETS IT ALL. She deserves it all.
But she gave me some, still. I watched her oldest hold her youngest in the middle of a peaceful cloud of pillows, while people fussed beyond her closed door in the kitchen. What a gift.
Of course, when your favorite loved ones experience very very good things and very very bad things, I think we ALL go “mama bear” for a little while. Something deep down bubbles to the top and acts out on love and instinct, rather than acting on “what is done.” Not that I am really doing anything a million miles away.
And not that I am acting on those feelings entirely, either. Because my feelings are telling me to throw everything to the wind and get on a plane.
But there is GOOD right now, you know? And it’s hers. And her having that good brings me peace and less anxiety about jumping on a plane. I’ll see them all eventually but… everything is (oh God, thank you) OK.
Anyway, I don’t have moments like this often. I thought “mama bear” reactions were strictly for children and husbands and parents and siblings. But friends like these are chosen family and she is so very, VERY much a part of mine.
And I am so very grateful that my closest and dear are all very GOOD right now.
All is well.
And there are dimples out there, people. DIMPLES.