Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Twelve Gifts - #4 The PRESENCE of FRIENDSHIP

“Go outside and look at the moon,” she’d call to say. And I’d step away from the chaos and clutter of the kitchen into the brisk night air and see this luminous orb, sometimes full, sometimes a sliver, sometimes shrouded in clouds of angel hair, and feel reconnected to the universe. There was something so calming and healing about seeing the moon on a clear night.

We spent countless hours walking the pre-dawn streets of Pasadena, by the light of the moon. If you put all those hours end to end, year upon year of walking three miles a day, they might actually reach the moon. Add to that the miles of trails we covered every Saturday for five years, and all that walking and talking would probably reach, like the big nutbrown hare’s love, to the moon...and back again.

We’ve covered a lot of ground, she and I, literally -- wearing out our hiking shoes, and figuratively, emotionally as well. This is the friend who, when I was on prescribed bedrest, would put me in her car and take me to rest on a blanket in the park because she knew I needed to be outside. This is the friend who, when tragedy struck, just decided to show up. Every day. For weeks on end. Uninvited. Because she knew I wouldn’t have the strength to ask, yet she knew her presence would matter. And it did. I knew if I could just hang on until the afternoon, when she was through school, she would come. And everything would be okay. Most of the time on those days when it was really hard, we didn’t even talk. But having someone there, even in the silence, still managed to divide the sorrows and multiply the laughs.

One year I had gall-bladder surgery just a few days before Christmas. I also had a 7-month-old baby whom I was instructed not to lift because his weight could tear the incisions. So there I was, recuperating from surgery, trying to care for an infant and prepare for Christmas. And it all seemed so impossible. Until she showed up. Took the baby with her on her errands. Held him for me while I wrapped presents. Fed and entertained the children while I rested. And finally, at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, laid him in my arms. I wept. I wept while she held him, for the relief I felt knowing the baby had been in such capable hands. And I wept when she left, feeling the wholeness of that burden resting back on my shoulders. But mostly I wept out of gratitude and amazement. She always knew exactly what I needed. And then acted unhesitatingly. Holding that baby for me at I time when I literally couldn’t hold him myself was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

I have a small handful of friends who are family-close, and highly prized. I know they’ll be there for me to listen and care, even if they live too far away to be here in person. And some even remind me to look at the moon. (Not unlike the wise men, who probably called each other to say look at the star...and then set off on a long journey together to find what it symbolized. Sure, they came bearing gifts, but their very presence might have been the greatest gift.)


Happy Birthday, CB! Thank you for holding my baby that Christmas Eve. Your presence and friendship (plus a small handful of others’) is one of my all-time favorite gifts.

12 comments:

Kazzy said...

I know CB is an important friend to you. You are such a good friend yourself. The older I get the more I appreciate such good friends, like you. Thanks for your influence in my life. You are a treasure!

Heidi Ashworth said...

What a beautiful story! You are lucky to have her as a friend (and Kazzy, too!) but you know what they say about luck--we make our own! (i.e. I am sure you did tons to deserve it!)

Melanie J said...

Awww, man. While I hope never to need friends like this, it feels amazing to know I have at least one if I do get to that point. Great gift.

Kimberly said...

Oh wow.

I want to be that kind of friend to someone. That was so beautiful. I know I'm always saying that about your posts, but it's no less true or sincere for being said often.

Eowyn said...

It's being very emotional for me to read these today. Thanks for sharing Charette. Friends like that are priceless.

Oh, and tell Kimberly that she is that kind of friend to someone.

LisAway said...

What a wonderful friend. I, too would love to be that kind of friend to someone. That is just lovely. Friendship really is a gift.

Cari said...

There's a full moon tonight. Maybe you'll be able to see it, too...through the clouds...

Thanks, mi hermana.

Heather of the EO said...

I too have these friends that just BLOW my mind. In response to your comment on my crazy post :), I DO have a friend like this--actually a couple. Very nearby. They make all the difference, just exactly as you've described here.

There are days when I focus more on the burden I feel when they leave my house, weighed down by the pressure of shouldering it all alone again.

But most of the time, I too am just overwhelmed with gratitude. And that goes for cyber friends like you too. Your words and prayers help more than I can say.

Cari's comment made me all weepy.

I LOVE these gift posts! Why am I writing a novel comment???

Allison said...

I already called CB last night to tell her yet another reason why I'm such a big fan of hers, and she just dah-linged dah-linged all over the place and ended up piling praise on ME. I echo your sentiments. A more giving heart, I don't think, can be found.

Mrs4444 said...

You're both lucky, I'm sure. Sure was a beautiful moon Thursday morning (in the dark). Kendall and I pulled over just to look at it. Sweet.

Jessica said...

I love this. Everyone needs a friend such as yours- and I want to be this kind of friend! So often I forget and just don't take the time . . . I'm going to put more thought into my friendships this week thanks to you!

Brillig said...

What a gorgeous post. She sounds like an amazing friend. Knowing you as I do, of course, I know that you're exactly the same kind of friend to her.