As I sat there tonight across from my dear Heartfriend from years past, I looked at her beautiful face that hasn’t changed one bit in the twenty-three years since we spent almost every day together. The kindness, the wit, the heart–all still there. But there was something else. In her smile.
There was peace.
We were catching up on untold stories and laughing over shared memories. Only this was no ordinary visit. We were speaking in quieter tones than normal, so as not to disturb her resting husband. From time to time medical staff came to his bedside to run tests, check numbers, and ask questions.
She’s no stranger to them. She and her sweet Fella have been here before. Several times.
And yet she had a smile on her face. Same as all those years ago.
This girl was the kind of friend who came out with a baseball bat, swinging, “Where are they? I got this.” (Seriously. I have stories to prove it.) And she still is.
As she shared with me the ins and outs of all that is going on right now, and none of it is easy, I was amazed. I finally had to say something.
“And yet you’re still smiling,” I said, half-questioning, pretty much amazed.
She shrugged and smiled again. “What else are you gonna do? It is what it is.”
What else are you gonna do? Indeed. How about wallow in it? Throw stuff around? Walk around so bogged down in all that is going on in your life right now that you just can’t get past it? Yell at God, shake your fists, and ask why?
But not this beautiful person, not my friend.
In the case of better or bitter, my sweet Heartfriend has chosen better. And I see it on her face. She has peace. Is she concerned? I am sure. Worn out. I’m thinking that’s an affirmative. But is she angry? Borrowing trouble? Making excuses? Cutting people off in traffic and making everyone around her pay for what she’s going through? Absolutely not.
That’s not how she is.
What else are you gonna do? How about use your gifts and talents to bless those around you? Plan for the future by crocheting for a baby that’s coming soon? Laugh about the funny little things, find joy in the lives of those around you, and share stories and listen and ask “why didn’t you tell me sooner? I would have been there.”
This looking outward and loving those around her when she has every right to be focused inward on what is going on in her own life?
That right there.
I want to be just like her when I grow up. (She is after all, I believe, six months older than me minus a day.)
Tonight I am thankful for the visit with my friend, despite the circumstances. I give thanks for hers and her husband’s smiles and I am praying/fingers crossed/hoping that the doctors will figure out how to make him better soon, so they can grow to be the “old couple that walks through Wal-Mart holding hands as they walk along slowly” that she dreams of them being. I’m thankful our paths intertwined all those years ago, the day I walked into an office that had been hers alone, and instead of turning away, she slid over, made room, and changed my life and blessed my heart forever. Bottom line, I am thankful for her. My Heartfriend. Because in the wise words of a rather small fella: