Shared History and the Vanquishing of Grief
Yesterday my friend Sandy came 150 miles to visit me. We met for the first time in my small little New England home town where she still lives. It was 1955. That's right -- 51 years ago. We were 5, and we met in first grade.
There is very little life history that we do not know about each other. As only children, we bonded like sisters. Our childhoods were spent equally divided between each other's homes. We were brownies and girl scouts together.
We both stood at the sidelines at junior high dances. Both our mothers were Geminis. Sandy and I went through it all together - her successful marriage, and my failed marriage. Her two wonderful kids, my globetrotting adventures. My cancer surgery. The loss of all four of our parents. My Mom taught Sandy how to sew in a sleeve and a zipper. Her Mom taught me about Margaret Sanger and how to aerate a lawn. We celebrated every birthday together, decorated pumpkins and played pinochle at her grandfather's farm, and went to Mountain Park amusement park every year as part of my Dad's annual shop union family outing. She has known me at a variety of weights as a brunette, redhead and blond. I knew her before she was a diabetic with a ceramic hip.
We know that we are forever "on call" for each other , ready to drop anything without question, anytime the other truly needs us. We will forever "have each other's backs".
So yesterday Sandy arrived to take pictures of our town's spectacular iris garden, wherein can be found over 2,000 varieties of iris. People come from all around to see it and to photograph the astonishing blossoms. You may click here to see a QuickTime movie of it that I found on the net.
We went from there to a beautifully landscaped local cemetery (which is also quite serene) for more pictures.
There we were in a graveyard ooohing and ahhhing about blossoming trees, extravagantly blooming shrubbery, elaborately carved headstones, stone mausoleums with interior stained glass windows.
I suppose, with all the loss in my recent months, that a trip to the cemetery should have made me sad, or pensive in a melancholy way. But it didn't. My buddy Sandy was with me, and we have seen enough death in our lives. Besides, we have always gotten through it together. It is not as though it did not touch us. Occasionally we would pause when a marker was poignant in some direct way - the loss of twin babies, or a marker with a touching sentiment carved into it. But it wasn't sad, just respectful
So here I sit marveling in how the presence of a relationship characterized by deeply shared memory removed all trace of grief from me. How does that happen? Is it the sense that since I am *known* in such a long term way that I do not have to display what I feel -- that *the other* can just know, and we can move on? It is that sort of shorthand found among deep old friends, or long term committed couples.
It is the same kind of loving and accepting shorthand that I can find with God.
I think He wants that of me -- not just to be my Lord, but to be my friend, like Sandy. To walk with me through iris beds as I celebrate what He has created, or to stroll with me among tombstones, His arm invisibly around my shoulders as we stand silently together facing eternity, before a monument carved into the shape of a hopeful angel.