I will not mention your name because I know how you value your privacy, but I’m sure you will know this you by my words. I have seen you struggle; struggle with pain, struggle with family, and struggle with things too deep to share. I know you worry about making an impact in your children’s lives, and worry about making the best life for them. I’m here to tell you I have faith in you. I have faith in all the things you do and I know your children will grow up to be amazing human beings simply because of who you are.
You have impacted my life deeply and in more ways than I think you know. I’ve never been the popular person or the person to have very many friends. I spent a great deal of my life trying hard to fit in and not understanding why it never worked. The single biggest gift you gave me was acceptance. You never seemed to think I was weird, or if you did you accepted that as part of me. I needed that in my life so badly. There’s no way you could know just how much.
I remember when I first met you. I was a little too old to be at that summer camp but I was afraid to move on and the family friends that ran the camp humored me. You were there as a young counselor and something in your soul just shined. You made me feel like a person by doing nothing other than being yourself and treating me as you treated everyone around you. The world hadn’t given me much at that point. I remember thinking, ‘Wow! She’s cool!’
I didn’t see you again for a few years; maybe once or twice at Green Lake, but our circles of friends went different directions. Now as young adults we joined a group of other young adults to train for a year of service. My adventure never happened. Yours had already started and stopped and started again. I had gone through some terrible things that year and felt less than human. I really wasn’t ready to move on and deal, but I pretended to anyway. I remember sitting by myself, trying to cope with this new reality that I wasn’t ready to accept. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to deal with other people after such an event. I won’t say what it was because that is information the world does not need. You came to me wondering why I was melting down into a puddle of goo. I confided because it had to come out somewhere. You told me you had been through the same thing and understood. No one had understood to that point. No one got it. I don’t remember what it is you said to me, but that was the time I really started to heal. I went home from that training program a different person. I never did do my year of service, but I think I needed to go to that training if only for the healing.
I have not always led a good life. I’ve made many mistakes and many bad choices, but that is the human condition. In essence I was young, dumb, and out of control, like many people my age. Another few years had passed. I moved to a different state, never knowing exactly where you lived. I started a life on my own but still too young and naïve to stay out of trouble. I had connected with a group of singers and made some dear friends. One of which would become your husband. I remember one of the leaders of our group on the phone with him when he was getting ready to ask you and I heard the name. I remember asking for a last name because somehow I knew. I was told it was no one I knew. But it was you! I was shocked and happy. Again you walked into my life on the fringes.
Around this time I got pregnant with my first child. As someone trying to be active in our faith community, this wasn’t necessarily a fun time for me. I felt I had disappointed everyone, my family, my faith community, my friends. I was so scared and felt again so alone. We were at an event for the choir just weeks before your wedding. Again I was a puddle of goo, and again you were the one to ask what was wrong. I told you I was pregnant, and you exclaimed, “Congratulations! That’s Amazing! You’re creating a life!” You were the first person to be happy about this impending life. You have no idea how much that meant to me. I think I cried at some point. Joy. Life is joy. To be alive is joy! We get so wrapped up in how we THINK we should live our lives and we forget that. You reminded me.
We lived closer for a time. In the same city at least until you left for more adventures. I remember my birthday the next year; you and your husband brought me roses. Such a small thing. Honestly in my entire life no one had ever brought me roses. Not a boyfriend, not even my child’s father. I was so touched I actually dried them. I’ve dried almost all the flowers ever given me. I think I might have one of those roses tucked away someplace still.
My trials and tribulations were far from over. I had to conquer much darker times. I had to leave my home for a time with an infant son. I lived with mutual friends for a month, and though I don’t speak with them often at this point as our lives go different directions, I will always be grateful to them. But this story is about you. You were even on the fringes of my life there. You visited these friends often and I saw your smiling face many times. I discovered our mutual love of a certain Mediterranean restaurant that was nearby. I returned to my home and another few years went by.
After some of the worst events in my life and being homeless for a time, pregnant with my second child I got a new apartment in an entirely different corner of the city. I found myself next door to these same friends I had lived with and a few streets from you. It was almost surreal. Our lives went different directions and we didn’t see much of each other, but after everything it was an interesting coincidence.
Our lives changed greatly. Your adventures took you around the world, through love and loss. You had a family of your own while mine grew up. Several years passed and I found you online of all places. Again you are back in my life, on the fringes, but always there, and this time when your adventures take you near and far I can still see this journey you are on.
I’ve watched some amazing bravery and truth. Without even knowing it you validate all the things I experience. We have different but no less all encompassing pain disorders. We both struggle with the same ideals to teach our children, many of the same fears, and many of the joys. Your words have affected me as deeply as always. The honesty about the things most of us try to hide and your willingness to fight for the causes you believe in.
I know not what all your struggles are, but I know you will conquer them. After all these years I know that much to be true. After all these years, I still think, ‘Wow! She is cool!’ And my dear friend, even though we have never been as close as family and our lives continue to take us in different directions, you are still dear to me and my life would never be the same without you in it. I cannot take away your pain or hold you while you cry, but know I will always be here for you. You have but to ask.
Susan is a writer and artist by day, a child and pet wrangler by night, and occasional crazy person on the weekends. She walks the path of a Siedr and strives to grow day by day.