People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
We were both young mothers. With two toddlers at home, and hidden inner secrets that were keeping me from reaching out too far, babysitting was a way to stay in touch with the world, especially when it could also help a young single mother. Amelia was only 6 months old the day I first babysat her while her mother walked down the block to a small café to make soup and wait on customers. In the scheme of life, I didn’t babysit the little girl for long. Her mother found out that she had a problem with the tendon’s of her ankles that would not let her stand on her feet for the hours that job entailed.
So they moved to a near by town where the mom took classes. In other moves she went to work at a place for youth in trouble with the law. I knew the struggles and hopes of her life. She knew the struggles and hopes of mine. While she moved to find her life, my home stayed in the town where we first met. I took my first aid class from her father, made crafts with her mother, and sometimes our family, away from our own relatives, shared a Christmas Eve supper with hers when she was in town.
Somehow, though time, difference and life circumstances divided us, our worlds kept finding points to touch, if only for moments. In one such moment I learned the harm we can cause to relationships when we participate in divisive conversations with others and the judgments are overheard. She came to drop off her daughter at one such time when ladies at my table were discussing a volatile issue in society. It took her months to rebuild the trust so that she could tell me about how that issue had touched her own life. In this and other ways, she taught me empathy and compassion. She taught me to stop and look within even when the cover seemed so clearly marked.
And through this all she learned my story. Where others judged or told me the shoulds, she listened and let my story be my story. In a mutual understanding, we knew that each of us had to make our choices in life. There is a place for just being present and supporting the person no matter what the choices.
The months before my family moved two provinces away, her world changed. The birth of her second child revealed fissures in her family that had been buried until then. Struggling to come to terms with the breaking of stability was further compromised by the stroke her father had at the same time. Though her sister had been her coach for the first birth, not even her mother was able to be with her as she cared for her ailing husband. I stood with her as Adam entered the world. At one point when pushing became hard and there was fear for the baby, I went to the only place I knew for help and I prayed, knowing my friend would understand.
That little boy is in his 20’s now. The daughter I babysat has children of her own. Years went by before we reconnected on Facebook where her physical and economic situations and my troubled life kept us from reaching across the barriers of space. When things began to settle, I didn’t even know where to look for her since even her mother had moved.
On Facebook we reconnected. I found she was in a town that I could get to every year or two and twice we have reconnected. For those moments we have together, we can share from a left off point. There is no need to resurrect old stories of how life came to where it is. We know the past so can share our present knowing that there will be acceptance.
In front of her townhouse, she has a rock garden. The dirt there was not of a quality to grow flowers so she has painted rocks and collected the handprints of people who touch her life. Where others would get discouraged, Michael-Anne creates her own beauty. It is a legacy she leaves her children. It is a legacy of resilience she models to me.
She is a friend I cherish as a part of my life.