Do you know what's really great about Facebook? I mean really, really great? Finding folks you haven't seen or talked to in like forever. As fast as you can type a person's name in the search engine and hit "enter", you can find them and reconnect. And because you are reconnecting via a machine, there's never any awkwardness to it. You can just pick right back up where you left off.
That's just what happened with me and my friend, Claire.
Claire was someone I knew briefly when I lived in St. Louis back in the 1800's.
You caught that, right?
Ok, not the 1800's. More like 1985 something or other. I can't remember the exact year of our first meeting partly because I'm older now and memory is one of the first things to go (so I've heard), and partly because we were young and idealistic and experimental and we didn't really pay attention to things like time and calendars. Fearless. That's what we were. Young and fearless and immortal or so we thought.
Anyway, I knew Claire for about a minute (remember, I wasn't paying attention to time - so a minute could have been a week, a month, a year, or two). And then I moved from St. Louis to Kansas City.
And that was it. I didn't see Claire or talk to Claire or snail mail Claire (stop laughing, this was back when! back when we didn't have e-mail and cell phones and text messaging). I really lost track. I didn't know anything like where she was, what she was doing, how she was doing. I didn't know. . . whatever happened to Claire. Until about a year ago. Facebook! That's what happened. I was sitting around one day trying to remember people I knew "back when". . . back when I didn't pay attention to things like time. Then suddenly - bam - out of nowhere - her name popped into my mind.
I suppose what I remembered the very most about Claire on that day I took my lil trip down memory lane was just how spirited and full of life she was. Definitely someone I wanted in my life. So I did it. I hit "send friend request."
And she accepted!
I had like a billion questions for her. Where do you live, are you married, do you have children, where do you work, do you stay in touch with so and so, what do you do for fun, what are your hobbies, how do you do this and how do you do that and on and on it went. What I quickly discovered was that Claire was far more settled then I ever envisioned her being. Many, many things had changed. Claire had grown up like we all had. But! She hadn't lost her passion for life - for living. She still had heart. Lots and lots of heart.
I told Claire about my blog one day, and I asked if she would be willing to be part of it. She accepted. I was elated! Why? Well, because, the question I most wanted to ask was - or seemed to be - just too weird to ask my very "all grown up and settled" friend. Keep in mind, the Claire of my memory was this larger-than-life, life-of-the-party, no worries, hop on a bus - travel 3000 miles for a concert - "don't worry, be happy" Claire. And now? She was all married and settled and living this lovely, peaceful, mature life down in the great state of Texas.
I feared my question would seem inappropriate somehow. Something I didn't want. But. . . when she agreed to be part of the blog. . .well, I knew then that I'd get to ask my question after all. And that? Made me happy. Elated even.
So what was the question I was dying to ask Claire? Drum roll please. . .
"How do you celebrate life?"
I knew how Claire celebrated life back in the 1800's when we paled around the streets of St. Louis. I didn't know how she celebrated life now. . . as a grown up.
I could not wait to hear her response! And then the day finally came. I looked in my in-box and there it was. Her response? Not at all what I expected. It - Blew - Me - Away! I was speechless. I was filled with emotion. I cried. I re-read it. I cried some more.
And here it is, unchanged, un-edited, word-for-word what she said:
"Here it is, Karen
I had no idea. I never knew. Always so happy. Always so upbeat. Always high on life. Who knew the pain she carried - on the inside - day in and day out? Wondering. Worrying. Wanting. . . her son. Did anyone know? She hid it so well. I cannot even begin to imagine that kind of pain, and my heart breaks for her that she ever had to know it herself. And while the pain may have consumed her during long sleepless nights or in broad daylight while surrounded by friends, she never caved. She never let the pain win. She never gave up and she never gave in. She persevered. She remained hopeful. And, in time, she prevailed.
That you accepted the greatest pain a mother could ever know, that you carried this heavy burden even when your strength was gone, that you continued to live life and do the very best you could in spite of the guilt that ate at you, that you cried tears in the dark creating a river in your very soul. . . for all those many years . . . that you accepted a life of pain without complaint, without blame. . . just so your precious little one could have a better life? I've never known such selflessness. I am beyond words.
You have earned your joy, my sweet, sweet friend. May your joy carry you far and may you continue celebrating your life in perfect harmony and rhythm one moment at a time with your loving son in your heart and by your side. . . always.