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Red String

July 7, 2010

It’s not my story to tell, but I’ll tell you this much:

I took a few breaths on the way into the church.  Deep ones, trying to find my center.  Walked through the door and paused a minute waiting for my eyes to adjust from the sun, not sure what to expect.  I heard someone say, “Hi Emily.”  A familiar face so unexpected, so welcome.  So reassuring.  I could walk to the pews steady on my feet now and certain of myself, although only myself.  I slid into the pew with the fewest people, slid down towards the group on the end, uncertain how far down to go, and how willing my black dress was to move with me.  These pews had seat cushions, a soft seat for sad silence.  Until she leaned over and said, “You’re Emily, right?”  Again: my name, and a familiar face, and I smiled.  When a friend, a real friend who has seen my molars when I’m doubled over with laughter and my splotchy face when the tears have fallen, sat down in the pew in front of us, the rest of the church fell away.  We sat together in the back with our hearts outstretched to the first pew.

Downstairs (when the service completed, the damp tissues disintegrated in our hands, and I had wished a thousand times simultaneously and selfishly that I had known her better and that her family had her longer) we waited to offer condolences.  I stood with the parents of a friend.  A friend that has not only seen my molars when I’m doubled over with laughter but probably caused the hysterics, and who has not only seen my splotchy face after tears but was probably the one wiping the tears away.  The parents gave me a hug without even knowing how much I needed a hug but maybe sensing it, because they are parents after all, and they know me well enough to do that – to hug me when I really needed a hug.  We talked until I got to pass that hug on.

And I did, I hugged.  The men of that line that I care about.  That have taught me things like how to read a t-test and how to train a puppy and how to build video game cities and mostly how to be good men and how to be good people.  I gave those men hugs.  And I wished I could give them so much more.  She, my friend, stood at the end of their line with a sister-in-law, waiting for us, her people.  I didn’t let go of her until our tears mixed and we nearly toppled over.  I would have waited until we hit the ground before I let go, but it wasn’t her mother, and I didn’t want to cause a scene.

The Real Story?  It’s not mine to tell.  But I will tell you this much: Lives intertwine and love expands.  I am so very lucky for this.


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