After high school, my close girlfriend and I went our separate ways, as is common with childhood friends. We caught up a few years later when I attended her wedding.
It would be twenty years before we connected again, via ‘friend’ing’ event through Facebook. We shared photos of our children, and oohhs and ahhs over how big and beautiful they were and how much older we were. I’m sure we added the standard, “We should get together sometime.”
One day she sent a group Facebook message to let folks know that her father had a heart attack and that she was sitting with him at a hospital in the city I lived in. I was working but had a strong urge to drop what I was doing and find her. There are only so many hospitals so I found them and headed over, uninvited, unannounced and with lunch.
I’m that person, the Sunday morning Jehovah Witness knocking at your door. You know they are well intended but still you may cringe and hide. No offense to Jehovah Witnesses as I have some in my family. I just knock with food and a hug instead of The Watchtower. And I too have had people hide from me, not answer the door. I really do get it and am no stranger to rejection.
This was more personal though. When I didn’t have a place to live in high school it was my friend’s family; her parents and sisters who let me sleep on their couches over a period of months.
When I arrived at the hospital waiting room she was there with her husband, five of her sisters, her mother, brother, children, nieces and nephews. They pretty much took up the entire room. It was like an unexpected reunion of sorts, lots of hugs and crying.
She took me by the hand in tears, her in disbelief that I was there and we walked down the hallway chatting, as if twenty years hadn’t passed. We were wearing our age in our eyes, both heavier and she made jokes about my canas which I laughed about because they were rightfully earned.
I was able to stay in the ICU with her, her mom and a few of her sisters in order to visit with dad. He was in bad shape and after his heart attack did not speak again. Over the years he had lost his vision so was also blind. I was able to talk to him as we all sat around his bed reminiscing and making jokes. I let him know I loved him and appreciated him taking me in because I wasn’t sure if I had actually ever said the words, “thank you” and none of us was sure if he could hear what was being said. I hugged and kissed him and all family members before leaving. He died at the hospital the next day.
I was thinking about the Girl Scout Song, “Make New Friends” and look back at this ‘moment’ as it now seems like a dream. What I remember most is how she grabbed my hand as we walked down the hallway.
It was like we were kids again and when you’re a kid holding your buddies hand you don’t say words like, “Hey, I really love you. I’m here for you, good or bad.”
You both just know.