Say what you will about Facebook, but it definitely has the ability to bring about a smile. Or a tear. And if it’s your lucky day, both.
I have had such a lovingly laid-back day. Playdate at our place with parents present at mid-day, and then one of the young guests lingered to play with my eldest son until five o’clock. I eavesdropped on their play frequently, but clearly they didn’t need me… much. They surfaced for a snack or two. One asked if he could draw on an old plastic water bottle with a marker. I said sure. Why not?
In return, I received a smile that was such a gift I had to smile back. I wish I could have wrapped that smile in sparkle and soft cotton to preserve it for a darker day. This sweet, gentle child is a bright and clear-eyed foil to my alpha-pirate-in-training-son. My son called out, I’m the Captain! and he said engagingly, I am the Crew! They played beautifully all afternoon while I cooked and thought and did a bunch of around-the-house kind of stuff that just needs to get done.
Evening brought our guest’s mom back to pick up her son and share a glass of wine. Although our dialog was interrupted by kids while I boiled pasta and warmed fragrant spaghetti sauce homemade by Nana and baked chicken and rice for the grown ups, it was still warmly received.
I love stories that only people who truly connect on some not-quite-understood level can share. Old friends are the best, but new friends bring about that sort of uncommon experience when one raises an issue that may be controversial or contrary or candidly funny (or sad) and the person bringing it up honestly doesn’t know which way it will fall. In a flurry of moments today we talked kids, food, money, circumcision, real estate, schools, sleep, aging parents, nationalism, gender identification and probably a few more topics I can’t remember. Because the kids were the focus, we didn’t go too deep into any one of these themes, despite how compelling and eager for exploration they are. But I love that they were a part of a natural and engaging dialog among friends who are friends who don’t actually know one another all that well (yet).
While my morning began with preparations for brunch and said playdate, another scene unfolded across the country. My sister’s race is a memorial 5K run held in Brooklyn, New York City. At the time of her death, she was working for the Volunteer Lawyers Project in New York City at the Brooklyn Bar Association. She loved her job, though she hadn’t held the position for all that long. I remember talking on the phone one night with her. Listening, her voice radiated joy and challenge and energy. She had found a good place to do work. She felt she belonged. She connected with her coworkers. What a blessing. What a good thing. I nodded, though she couldn’t see me. The rightness of her situation sunk into my soul.
I wasn’t surprised to hear good news from my sister since she never seemed to have trouble finding her place in the world, and one of her “challenges” through the years was kindly reclaiming friendship with the men – friends only – who had fallen in love with her by accident. She was a woman who both men and women loved, and love, still. The race this morning represents that great and enduring love. And although I wasn’t able to present, I am grateful. I am indebted to the Brooklyn Bar Association and the Volunteer Lawyers Project for their commitment and contribution – not only to my sister’s memory – but to the community at large. Their work is so important.
I am reminded that my day, filled with play and fun conversation with friends, is a blessing. I must not take these days – these stunning autumn days held carefully in the light that we must remember in a few months’ time during the darkness that the rains will bring – for granted. They may be few, or they may be many. We just don’t know. So let’s move through them with as much energy and grace and fortitude and giving that we can.
When I’m feeling a little low, I will draw upon the energy and strength and patience and perserverance of others who have lived before me and those who live beside me. New friends, old friends, strangers, family. When I’m feeling a little high, I will gratefully share my energy with you. Promise.
And thank you, Liz, for making me remember, commit, and keep going.