Thursday, August 12, 2010

Exits and Restoration

          Photo Credit: © Tomeda (

Once upon a time I had a friend. We were young. And stupid. And dramatic (at least I was). If there had been a video collage of our friendship, it would have played like a movie snippet. From baking with flour all over the kitchen and our faces while happily singing along to some lame song that was a hit at the time (You know the song, it’s the one you hear many years later and you can’t figure out why you ever thought it was so amazing...except for the fact it takes you back to that precise moment.), to crying over whatever angst high school dished out.

We had songs we loved to ham up together. She always took the rap parts. (Which you would appreciate the ridiculousness of, if you knew her~ she was as Wonder Bread as they came. Sweet. Saccharin almost. With the voice of an angel.) I took the singing parts.

Sometimes she would play songs for me with sexual lyrics, telling me to ignore the lyrics and listen to how wonderful the harmonies were. She had a thing for that...harmonies, not sexual lyrics. Only person I have ever known that could find a beautiful harmony in those kinds of songs.

She was a morning person. I was not. (That has changed for me somewhat.) You know the type; she would just as soon paint the house as get out of bed in the morning. Never have I known someone so happy at the advent of morning. {And we were 18, mind you. What 18 year old likes mornings?! :) The thing I always loved though was that she had the space to be as chipper as she was (and you have never seen chipper quite like this~ literally fluttering around, singing~ nauseatingly cheerful) while I had the space to be as cranky as I was. (And believe me, I was cranky yin to her chipper yang.)

When the boy I loved in high school broke my heart in a way I would never let anyone break again, she was the one that came and stayed with me in the middle of the night. In the moment of that heartache, while my mother screamed and told me it was my fault and made it about her own pain, my friend was the one that prayed with me. Sang to me. Hugged me. Crawled inside the dirty corners of my life with me.

After I had wasted months of time deluding myself that he would come back, she was the one with the courage, honesty, and love to look me straight in the eye and say, “P, he is not coming back.” If I close my eyes, I am still there. On her couch. Looking at her. Feeling like the most loved person on earth. (Who does that at 18?)

This was not your standard issue high school friendship- personality driven, fickle. It was real. And it mattered a great deal to me.
Several years later in college, it was my turn to be honest. It did not go so well. My friend that I adored, that I was sure would be my friend for life, forced me to pack her up into my mental suitcase sooner than I was ever ready.  I mourned this for years. Tossed it over in my head, looked at it from every angle, regretted it. The high school me who was sure judgment was my calling (Yep, I was...) was long gone by this point and what I had said was truly only out of love, but I sure was wishing I had left it alone.

My husband (the writer) brilliantly wrote in one of his fiction pieces, “In a way, looking back on a relationship was like looking back into a room just outside the exit. Everything you had seen and known inside was now framed by the way in which you had left it.”

A couple months ago, I got an unexpected email from my friend, offering an olive branch. Years ago I waited for this. Needed it. But I think in order to heal, God always has us swim out to the deep end, past our need, to where the truth is. So today, she truly never needed to say anything at all. Because I long ago realized that when God gives you a fountain in your desert (she was there for me in the worst years with my mother), you dump all the other stuff. And maybe with age you realize that often the things we do to each other that sting are really due to the pain orbiting our own lives and don’t really have a whole lot to do with the other person at all.  It is here that, instead of framing the relationship by the exit, you realize that “all that is good and true between us, this will remain the same.” (Amy Grant, “After the Fire”) So you fold up the memories in gratitude and store them lovingly in the mental scrapbook of your life. 

The email was gravy...



Ruby Red Slippers said...

That was very well written, and touched my heart-
Forgiveness, and moving on is a beautiful thing...and age makes gives us the grace and wisdom we thought we had as teens-

Becca said...

You are incredibly gracious... And time with the Lord has opened our eyes so much more... I loved your post... Loved that it ended with "the email was gravy". How awesome!