My son was angry and screaming.
I was angry and screaming.
He slammed doors.
I slammed doors.
My daughter just tried to stay out of the way of the rage and flying verbal knives.
It was a horrible day.
And in the midst of all the horrible, Mary Kate was coming over to help me paint my son's room. A student of mine a handful of years ago. Now a young woman. Instead of a student, she was now a friend...but how far into horrible will friends go?
How much horrible does one want their friends to see?
So I called.
"I'm okay with bad."
"I'm ten minutes away."
"I will paint in a room by myself."
"You don't even have to speak to me."
"I'm not scared."
When I turned off my phone, she had agreed to turn around and go home.
I knelt on the floor and sobbed so hard I ached.
I don't know how long I sat there. I can't tell you what went through my mind. All I know is when I picked my phone and asked, "Where are you?", she answered, "Two minutes away sitting in the parking lot wondering how angry you'll be when I just show up at your door anyway."
"It's really bad."
"I'm not afraid of really bad."
"It's pretty insane."
"Insanity doesn't scare me."
"If insanity doesn't scare you, I need you."
"I'm on my way."
I sobbed. Talked. Maybe some of it made sense. Probably didn't.
She sat on the paint spotted drop cloth and listened. I don't remember her saying a word. I just remember she was there.
She was also there when I spent a damp morning walking through the rain dripping grass pulling up ragweed that had taken over my yard.
The week before I had worked in the yard, cleared some flowerbeds...cried the whole time. My husband and I had done the yardwork together. It was my first year to do it alone, and oh what I would have given for someone to just sit in a lawn chair near me, sip sweet tea, and talk. I didn't expect anyone to get on their knees or sacrifice their backs. I just wanted a presence.
It is amazing the comfort a simple presence can offer when all the heart can see is the empty.
And she chose to be present.
She wandered the yard in boots, pajamas, and a jacket with me while we filled three large outside trashcans with milkweed. We talked some. I don't know what about. I remember what I kept thinking.
I kept thinking of kneeling in my front yard over a flowerbed the week before with tears dripping off my chin and telling God how nice a companion would be...and how He gave me one. It was love defined lived out in my backyard.
. . . . .
It took months for me to be able to think of writing thank you notes, and when I finally decided I was ready, I pulled out the notes, suddenly couldn't breathe, and walked away from the notes. I mentioned this to some friends, and four of them offered to come and sit with me while I wrote the notes, offered to make me sweet tea, address envelopes, write the notes for me if I needed. What did I need? They were in.
I didn't want people to see me trying to sort through the emotions and thoughts of a marriage gone wrong, a husband who didn't want to be here, and a life gone away. I couldn't explain how I could go from anger to sobbing in seconds, and I didn't trust people to understand. I was wrong. I should have let them come. I should have trusted their strength more. I should have...allowed them to comfort me with their presence.
The next day I wrote the thank you notes by myself...and cried the whole time. Even though I didn't allow my friends to be there, their love and support gave me courage for the task...and knowing they would be there was love.
. . . . .
It was WonderBoy's birthday, and I was trying to be courageous, but sometimes courageous needs a friend to stand strong.
I sent a text to my friend John.
"I know birthdays will get easier. I know a time will come when we get through the day without memories, without fighting tears. It isn't today."
He wrote back. "I can't imagine. Focus on getting through today. Tomorrow will be easier."
A few texts and a bit of time later, and WonderBoy was ready to head out for dinner and lasertag.
I texted: "Deep breath. I can rock this."
John responded: "Yes, you can."
And I did.
. . . . .
Yes, this is crazy...I'm not afraid of crazy.
I can't imagine how hard this is...but I'm still believing in you.
I can't fix hell...but I'll walk through it with you.
Wherever you are, whatever you are in...
...I'm not afraid of the pain....
...I'm not afraid of the crazy...
...I'm not afraid of the hard days...
...I'm there. I'm in with you.
That is love.
That is powerful.