“A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.”
— Donna Roberts
So here’s the truth.
I come to this deadline with a lot on my mind, and things I want to say, but I don’t know how to say them. I am distracted. The air conditioning isn’t working. The underground sprinkling system needs to be fixed. The closet doors don’t open. I have boxes still to unpack, homes to find for furniture bought for other spaces, pictures to put on walls, but which walls? I don’t know. I can’t make up my mind. And don’t get me started on the debate over curtains versus blinds versus nothing at the windows except the view – a constant dilemma, I tell you.
I need to go to the store. I’m low on just about everything, especially kitty litter – a necessity in this house with two old, but so far, well-mannered cats – and there’s no half-and-half for my coffee, but I don’t dare leave because the air conditioning guy is going to come sometime soon. It is his third trip in two weeks, and my bet is this will be the most expensive visit so far.
I’m trying not to worry about it – what good does it do? – and trust me when I say if that’s the worst thing to happen to me, a big repair bill, I’m living a pretty good life.
Besides, when I look up from my computer, glance out the window to rest my eyes, a doe and her twin fawns are sampling the hydrangeas in the garden. One follows right behind its mom, moving from shrub to tree to bush. The other is more adventurous and kicks up its heels a little in the grass. I wonder if it’s the one I saw born in the backyard this spring: a miracle witnessed one morning when I was up before dawn. Not to be outdone by the fawns this morning, a family of chickadees – five of them – crowds into the bird bath all at once. And just on the other side of the window: A rose-breasted grosbeak tries in vain to eat from a tube feeder.
Did I say a pretty good life?
How about a very good life, indeed.
It is no secret. I’ve been a little lost lately. I’ve been writing about it for months, ever since my husband died. I worry that I’ve become too self-centered and wrapped up in myself– something I don’t ever want to do or be – and I’m working my way out of it, I know, but it’s harder than I thought. It’s taking longer than I thought to recover myself, to remember who I am, after so many years of being invisible and unheard.
I am not the only one who’s felt like this, not the only one walking this road. We all are, in one way or another, or we will be – which is always my message.
But that’s not what I was thinking when I sat down to write. That’s not exactly what’s been keeping me up at night, anticipating this month’s deadline.
I’ve been thinking about reunions. When I think back on this summer, and I will, I know I will, I am going to remember it as a summer of reunions – with friends, with memories, even with myself.
This summer, I have caught up with friends who have been away for years, brought back by family commitments and — because we’re at that age — 50th high school class reunions. (Mine is next year, a subject for another day.) I’ve spent time with friends and family, newly retired, schedules and obligations no longer keeping us apart. I’ve opened boxes of books, old friends all, and filled new shelves with their reminder of how much I love the printed page.
And in the midst of all the catching up with old friends and memories shared, I’ve been reminded of who I used to be – and can be again.
As one of my favorite quotes says, sometimes it takes a friend – or two – who knew you when to sing you your song; to re-introduce you to yourself.
That’s what’s been on my mind these last days and weeks. I could tell you about the night my friends Michele, Sonny and Ruth got together, brought together by a history shared. Or the visit from my friend Kathy, who sized me up on the playground when we were in kindergarten and said: “You’re going to be my friend.” She lives out of state, and I haven’t seen her in 15 years. We needed more time together and promised – pinky finger, cross our hearts, promise – to stay in better touch. Same goes for a visit with Linda, a friend from college, in town for a reunion of another type. We could have talked all night.
At the risk of sounding too self absorbed, each conversation held up a mirror so I could see myself.
But because life has a way of providing reality checks when I need them most, as I write these very words, the air conditioning guy – a nice guy – tells me an ear wig, one of those creepy little insects, got into some contact point and gummed things up.
You can’t make up stuff like this, but you can remember to laugh – because you used to, all the time.
Susan Harrison Wolffis is an award winning writer known for her engaging writing style.