I listened to every word, every undercurrent that gently passed through them, and watched her as she opened her heart and handed a few pieces over. I took it all in and uncovered the layered circumstance that had culminated in a heavy weight of concern.
I knew what she needed to hear.
I knew because deeper than those damp beautiful eyes is a lifetime of love, of deep wounds and tragic turns, of loss, of pain so entrenched in her soul that I could feel it reverberating through the years. She’s felt mine too. We have shared it all on our timelines, our histories full of long years and short days, accounting for one another through every change and challenge we have faced. Together, we have hurled in fits of laughter, trembled in grueling sobs and lived a lifetime together in between.
I’ve seen her through the physical trauma of disease, lying weak in her hospital bed with little hope and even less strength. I’ve watched her children grow to become the light in her eyes, evidence of her love and devotion through the years. I’ve held her hand and prayed just moments before she stepped into the narrow hallway toward the door beyond which she would sign her divorce papers, a time that waged war on her faith and her stamina. I’ve celebrated graduations, weddings and the births of grandbabies, where I’ve seen her spirit soar to the highest heights. I’ve also held her trembling body, full of desperate sobs, when life became unbearable. I’ve walked into a funeral home to see her standing tall for the sake of love and everything it inspired. I’ve spent a good many years holding hard to the truth that with each other, there is strength to endure it all.
I’ve lived her history alongside her and she alongside me. We know each other’s rough, brittle breaks that coarse, jagged scar tissue holds together. We have deeply embedded each memory of trials and trauma and tests that go on for years, and we have walked through those profound moments that linger throughout life—together. From our rock bottoms to our mountain tops, each step was a stitch sewn in the tapestry with the help from the other.
So, as I look into her eyes now, I proclaim her truth, as it seems to escape my breath so effortlessly, naturally, intrinsically. The years have taught us how to care for our wounds, our scars and our open places where love runs dry. My own eyes start to well up, as I am overcome with emotion. The sweet release of what this friendship carries is more powerful in this pivotal moment. Years have unwrapped this glorious gift, rich with abundant grace and fervent strength.
Years upon years have tightened the knot that ties us together. Season after season, life has created a landscape of hills and valleys that have been traveled and new paths that have been paved. We know one another’s terrain quite well, and we know what the other needs to navigate it. We are well aware of how equipped we are to handle the climb or to slide down that hill.
As she finds herself amidst the climb, forced to take a slippery step, facing a new bump up the hill, she shares her angst, her trepidation, her explanation, her stumbles.
And I told her exactly what she needed to hear.