When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.
I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own.
Today, I want to talk about coffee and conversation – in real life, shared with a friend. Settle in, and I’ll get you a cuppa, because it’s our turn now to have a conversation…
How often do you see your friends? Have you ever lost touch with someone, through circumstance, and then had a reunion that reminded you powerfully why you enjoyed this person’s company so much?
Two weeks ago, I sat in my friend Ashley’s home, sipping coffee, and chatting. It was deeply fulfilling. We hadn’t had the chance for that type of visit in a few years – life had taken us in different directions, and hers had included the birth her youngest child, who had some very serious health concerns which involved many long-term visits to distant hospitals.
It was wonderful to see this little boy, happy and healthy, and to have a chance to play with him while we talked, and our daughters, ten and eleven, played happily together (they’d been needing time together, as well).
We didn’t talk about anything specific, and yet there was a feel to it – general sharing, on a variety of subjects, as they came to mind. Sometimes we stayed near the surface, and other times we delved deeply. It was just the way it had always been – easy and pleasant, even when the subject matter turned to more serious topics.
You see, the separation was in large part my doing. Her son’s illness, which could have been terminal, reminded me far too closely of Elijah, our second child, who died in a hospital NICU at only twelve days old. Adding to the reminder was a birthday very close to our son’s.
I couldn’t bring myself to be close to them, during the time when things were uncertain. I love children and attach to them quickly, and I love Ashley and her family. That was the selfish reason. The other, more selfless one was that I didn’t want to dump my ‘stuff’ on her when her life was already overflowing with her own. There are just times when I can’t avoid my ‘stuff’ leaking out; those who’ve read here a while will likely know what I mean.
In that sense, it was merciful; and act of compassion from a grieving mother to one who might have also been grieving, and maybe didn’t need any more reminders.
Two years of her not needing to provided a buffer. I explained, and apologized. She assured me it was all right, and asked if I’d mind talking about how Elijah died – we didn’t know one another then. And so I shared, in greater detail than I usually do, about his brain injury at birth, seizures, coma, and death…
There was healing in it, for both of us. And there was her healthy little boy with the great big grin, the daring spirit, the confidence of a happy, supported toddler, and all the words.
We shared, and connected. I left her house that evening with a tired girl and a renewed glow of friendship in my soul. It had been too long, and now I remembered why. Ashley wakes something up in me, in ways that aren’t easily expressed in words, but which renew and deepen me.
For me, that’s what the best friendships do. They make me more of myself, and better, and I have a sense that I’m doing the same for my friend. It’s embracing, and nurturing, to spend a few hours in company this way. Whatever the topics of conversation, there’s a sense of intimacy in it that feeds the spirit.
It lingers beyond the visit, It spreads into my other interactions, my writing, my life, in wonderful ways.
I won’t let so long go by before we do this again….I will be more attentive to the passage of time that carries me off to other things, the times when I think ‘I’ll get to that later’, and then don’t. And not just with Ashley. I am blessed with a group of dear friends who inspire me, each in their own ways, and I haven’t seen several of them in far too long.
I think the time has come to begin to do something about that….
How about you? Have you had an experience like this with a friend? Is there someone you haven’t seen in a while, but miss? Why not give them a call, and set something up? Arrange for in-person coffee and conversation, and open yourself to what it brings.
I’ll be updating my future visits with too-long neglected friends here, over the next months. If you’d like to share yours, please drop a comment in the little box…I’d love to share in the joy of your re-connection!
And, until then, may I offer you a refill and a listening ear?