When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~Henri Nouwen
About thirty-one years ago, two “old souls” met in early childhood, and the friendship was instantaneous. Monica has taught me much about finding beauty in the every day since then. Whether it was playing orphans in my backyard lying beneath the Dogwood tree, or traipsing through the golf course behind her house. Whether it was writing poetry and mailing it to each other for critiques or heading off to watch baseball games together. Whether it was crying or laughing or imagining or writing or fighting, we were always there, kindred spirits.
Knowing and being known by each other.
We share secrets from our childhood, memories of lazy days together growing up. We share a love for lilacs and poetry and all things lovely. We share a love of music and lyrics and words, of art and writing and journals. She is my go-to person for good books and good movies, and I trust her implicitly. She is a safe place to pour out my heart and she is not afraid to speak the truth in love to me. She has always reminded me to be gentle on my heart and pointed me to the Cross when I could only gaze at myself.
And she has taught me about the beauty of suffering.
She reminds me every day to live. To make it a great day. To wear today out. To focus on Christ, on holiness, on beauty. To be me, and to be happy in who God created me to be. Some days I look at her and I marvel at her beauty, intelligence, wisdom, and spirit. Her passion for truth and Christ and His glory. And I am grateful. So grateful. Because I truly think without her, I would have given up during my cancer battle and fallen into despair.
And now it is my turn. I am the one filling up her inbox and mailbox. I am the one reminding her that I’m here no matter what. That I know what it’s like when you have no strength to pick up the phone or write an email or pursue anything or anyone outside the realm of your suffering. That I am the one with no expectations. That I am her friend even if she can’t ever give me anything back. That we are strangers here and there is hope beyond what we experience in the trials of this life.
You see, those are all the same things she has said and done for me.
God knew all those years ago how badly we would need each other then to walk through the fiery trials of today. And as we know and are known by each other, it is comforting that God knows us even more deeply.
There are no words to describe the gratitude today as I celebrate in my heart my dear Monica’s birthday. The emails are not enough: we are aching to be together today (It has been almost a year since we’ve seen each other–far too long). Thirty-one years ago we met as young girls, and time has only strengthened and blossomed our friendship. She roots me to the core, and I am always sure of her. So thankful for the gift of her life, her faith and her love.
She is my hero.
Happy birthday, my friend. I love you. Muchly.