Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The sign of a great friendship? Silence.

W and I spent a few hours on the phone tonight, thanks to Sprint PCS. We watched one show together, but the rest of the time she was watching one show, while I watched another. I also spent some time winning at poker again on my $2 hand-held game. [Alas, after getting to $96,470 I melted again and lost it all.]

Much of our time was spent in silence, yet it was companionable silence. It was as if she were right beside me on the couch, a reading-a-book-while-I-listened-to-music sort of thing.

23 years is a long time knowing someone. Definitely there have been ups and downs along the way. Things that I didn't understand. Times that I frustrated her. Periods of strain and confusion. However, neither of us has ever really let go. After all, we are sisters in Christ.

Of all of that time, we really only lived near each other for two years and a few summers between college semesters. Instead, ours has been a friendship of letters, then e-mails, then cell phones...with a few visits here and there.

W knows me backwards and forwards, inside and out, and only sees the woman Christ has created. That is a marvelous thing. She wants nothing, expects nothing, other than for me to be me. What a wondrous thing. We agree. We disagree. We like very different things at times, but the differences do not really matter in the long run.

For a long while, she traveled a darkened path on which I struggled to remain beside her. During the latter part of her journey, I was the most distant from her than I have ever been. In part, that distance came from counsel from my family that she had just become too "toxic," a judgment made when I shared with them my own frustrations that W seemed to take one step forward and two steps backwards no matter how I tried to help her. Seeing her that way was breaking my heart and wearying my soul. I bowed under the weight of their criticism of me for still befriending her. My calls and correspondence slowed down to a trickle. Now that she is on the other side, I feel as if I could have done more. I feel as if I let her down in my own weakness, instead of being ever strong for her. The woman that she is came in her response to my confession: You were there, always there...even when I made it difficult for you to do so.

There is a difference between someone who is toxic and someone who is merely deeply wounded. W is the latter, my mother is the former. W does not care if I weight 108 or 180. W does not care of my hair is past my waist or my shoulders. W does not care if I wear sweats or a suit. None of that really matters to her. All of it matters to my mother. As she is wont to remind me, I am a constant disappointment to my mother, whereas I am a source of joy to W...someone who forgives my weaknesses and is thankful that I am her friend.

Little does she know what a gift that response was to me.

So, tonight we sat in silence. And it was good.

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