It’s a little bit like a pile of dog poop in the autumn grass. All around it is sunshine and glistening dewdrops, spider webs encrusted in shimmering jewels, birds calling to each other from treetops in shades of orange and red and yellow. The grass has recovered from the hot summer and has its lush emerald luster back, but smack in the middle is a steaming, smelly mound of shit. It needs to be cleaned up soon, although neither of us is likely to step in it. We are both painfully aware of the stain in our midst and give it a wide berth. Occasionally, one of us ventures forth to inspect it. Is it still there or has someone else performed an act of mercy and made it disappear?
I, for one, am determined to leave it there for a while. So long as we can avoid it, it will be fine. It is not likely to get worse. It can’t grow on its own, nor will it mold or fester or rot. Even after it has been acknowledged, it will dry out and be easier to pick up from the grass.
Do you remember the first close friend you made as an adult? As a kid, anything seemed possible and making mistakes was inevitable – not even worthy of worrying about forgiveness from a friend. As an adult, though, we are expected to be responsible and diligent, hardworking and realistic. I met my dearest “grown-up” friend as a new mother. It was perhaps the most frightening and trying time for me to have any kind of self-confidence and I was both intimidated and drawn to her self-assurance and composure as a new mother herself. Our daughters were born a few weeks apart and our husbands both worked for the same company. We attended classes at the hospital together and soon made play-dates a weekly occurrence. After nearly seven years of friendship, I still cannot make a cup of tea taste as good as she can, nor do I have her ability to remain unruffled in the face of whatever new phase my eldest is entering. I feel completely welcome in her home and she is one of the few women I will allow into my house when the floors are covered in dog hair and the laundry hasn’t been done in several days. We empty each other’s dishwashers and are referred to by each other’s children as their “second mom”.
She has saved me from boredom, taking myself too seriously, and severe depression. She stocked my fridge with milk, bread, salads, macaroni and cheese and butter on the day we returned from seven weeks in Europe, knowing that the last thing I would want to do was run to the store that first morning back. Our children consider each other siblings and have known each other their entire lives. I miss her terribly when more than three or four days go by without even a phone visit.
We have established yearly rituals together and our birthdays are within a few days of each other. We have met and love each other’s parents and have shared secrets we wouldn’t tell anyone else. Our daughters have bathed together, slept together and concocted some absolutely unimaginable schemes together. We have forged a bond that will transcend illness, sadness and stress.
She is my first line of defense when I feel myself sinking into the depths of despair. When she needs me, I would drop almost everything to come to her aid. I love her children as my own and have spent some of my most enjoyable moments giggling with her youngest child.
But someone has shit on my front lawn. Circumstances beyond her control may force her to move her family overseas and while I agree that her life would be simpler and, perhaps, significantly better overall, I can’t even stand to talk about the possibility.
I cannot imagine raising my children without her insight and practical point of view. Holidays will not be the same without the eager faces of the children I’ve watched grow up, hunting for Easter eggs in my yard and sitting on Santa’s lap. I will miss the effortlessness of this relationship – picking up the phone to share a hilarious anecdote or ask if I can pick anything up for her at Trader Joe’s. This noble spirit that came into my life just when I needed her and helped me become a better mother and a better person has raised herself above the status of a girlfriend. She is my sister and my confidante. I wish for peace and happiness, fulfillment and joy for her family. I also wish teleportation was an option…