I am standing at the kitchen sink peeling eggs for my man-child who leaves the nest for good in days. He will have an insurance plan a house, a job and wings spread wide before July yields to August.
And I wonder.
How did we get to a birthday which is a speed limit designed to save gasoline. That’s the collective we. Today is The Patient One’s birthday and it screams out for attention in the repetition of fives like an umpire yells “OUT.” One leaving, one growing older while I think back to springtime as I peel back memories while I peel back bits of shell.
I think on all these days and all these years and wonder where they are. The years line up in my mind. And I remember a Spring breakfast with a friend at The Flying Biscuit diner. Where words flew and peels of laughter rang out loud and I bridged the gap of over 20 years.
We re-connect after all this living, after all these years of life. An un-planned, unintentional pause in a friendship that was deep and wide with laughter and growing up. A friendship put on ice, left untended to and malnourished for over two decades.
A breakfast can last for three hours. And laughter and can be so loud that other diners feel the joy. And you can feel the years of separation melt away like a pad of butter on a heap of hot grits.
Life has bumped her around. Her story is riddled with hurt and pain. I knew via email and phone calls wet with tears big chunks of her story. Before we pulled up our stools for grits and eggs, my heart had begun to prepare for the re-telling as I looked into her soul, into those chocolate brown eyes.
I went believing that I would cry with her and show kindness and comfort. In the upside down economy and inverted paradigm of life, she was comfort and joy to me. She was wisdom. Her story and her battles became my balm.
Her struggles became my new insight. And stories of her journey which the young me didn’t quit know or understand are heard with a knowing anew. By the me who is a woman with wrinkles and graying hair. Because story as teacher shifts perspective of the heart. And story with flesh and bones looking you in your eyes wraps new understanding around how we learn from each other— about life and living, joy and hardship, laughter and tears.
I hear. I listen. I receive. And she teaches. And she explains.
Loud laughter is the trademark of our friendship. And heads turn from patrons in the diner wondering how love can laugh this loud. How a deep down longing to re-connect souls and lives can rumble up and come out as bellowing belly laughs. How friendships full of grace and love can touch strangers, and joy becomes contagious.
The young thirty somethings or twenty somethings, I cannot tell any more, turn and say how special this thing is that we have. And we laugh and we say, yes we know. They tell us how unique it is for friendship to show up like this. And there is bitter sweet in every bite.
What did I lose by loosing touch? Why do they smile and remark at our Joy? Why did I let this friend stay so far from my heart for so long? What bumps in my road could she have helped me with when I was bruised and roughed up if she had only known, if I had only reached out, if friendship didn’t take a break.
And how beautiful contagious Joy is when we are vulnerable, and loud happy, and free to show remarkable love, extravagant love. And to share our stories, our lives, our authentic selves.
My girlhood friend told stories that my memory hadn’t held. Of us. Of me. Each telling of a slice of story transported me back to happy times of our teens.
But the most valuable piece of the three-hour breakfast was my single, childless friend taught me about being a parent. She shifted my perspective and my lense. She gave me eyes to see. And a heart to listen.
Her story and the story of one of my own children, they share common threads. And I have been blind and unknowing and in need of a teacher. A teacher to show me how to bend in to love with a changed heart.
I learn in the loud and messy friendship pulled up to the counter.I learn in The Flying Biscuit about patience and perserverance and loving uniquely. And of loving the differences with a heart that embraces the fact that each of us has a story.
My friend is the teacher, the one with no children to raise, and she is teaching me a few things about being a parent. And about love.
The vast separation between us is closed in three hours. We are 16 and giddy girls laughing with tears rolling down our wrinkled cheeks. Salty love serving up Grace and contagious Joy touching souls over breakfast.
And I know anew to look out for wisdom and kindness in the simplest of places.
And to expect healing to come when we least expect it.
We will not let twenty years wedge between us again.
And I will listen hard and seek the lessons of life being taught through the stories being spoken and lived around me.
Looking to listen with an open heart, a bent ear, and a spirit seeking and longing for those moments of contagious Joy served up with an extra helping of Grace.
Thank you my friend for telling me your story and listening to mine. And giving me a chance to be your friend, anew.