Monday, January 23, 2006

Broken Road

As I walked through her front door that morning, I was greeted by the familiar essence of eucalyptus and vanilla. Since we were kids, I could count on the smell of this house, with more devotion than almost anything life had handed me. The usually calming scents seemed to have the opposite effect on me as I saw her hunched at the dining room table. Her body was motionless, as still as one could be without disappearing into the surroundings. She sat, nursing her morning coffee. The steam rising from its depths proved that the chill in the air wasn’t a figment of my imagination. Her bagel remained untouched and the morning paper was still wound in its rubber band, lying in front of her. Her eyes were empty. Her hair rumpled and knotted. Makeup was smeared in angular lines across her face, making her appear much older than her twenty-three years. Her robe hung from her bones. I wonder if she has eaten in days. I want to reach out to her, but I fear this may be a rare moment without tears. Instead, I reach for the paper and begin to unfold it. Immediately, I realize my attempt at normalcy was the wrong move altogether for she sees the headline in my hands.


I hear the tinkling of cheap china start faintly and grow into a din that sounds as if the roof is caving in. It is her. Her hands are shaking so fiercely now; I fear the coffee cup she is holding will crash to the floor at any moment. I reach for the cup, just as she surrenders her grip. The tiny white object shatters on its perfectly matching saucer. Glass shards fly, but she does not notice. Her body has gone limp and she has slumped off her chair. I forget the cup was even there as I grab her mid fall. She collapses into my arms, her head on my shoulder, her body in a limp mass of limbs and tears. I rock her as gently as I rock a weeping child, smoothing her hair, softly whispering in her ear, “It’s going to be okay, Shay. I promise you everything is going to be okay.” I knew that she was the shattered remnants of the woman I once knew, but she was, is and always will be my best friend. I will pick up the pieces. I will fix this. I have to fix this.

Four years have passed since that November morning. It is amazing the paths that life will lead you down and changes it will throw you. I have faith that the good Lord knew exactly what he was doing when he created best friends in Shay and I. Twenty-five years have now been written in our book of friendship. The loss of her husband led her me to her side, but she knows in her heart of hearts that something as simple as a broken nail would have had me there in a heartbeat. I have been blessed to help her raise her beautiful daughter. Each night as I tuck her in, I explain why mommy cannot be there. “She’s working, baby. She wants to give the world…and she’ll do it too.” I tell her how much her daddy loved her and the smile that shone on his face like a thousand suns. I had never seen a daddy so proud. I, as her pseudo Aunt Katherine, loved her more than I ever knew a person could love a child. In her eyes, I saw her mother. If I didn’t know any better, I would think her daddy was smiling through those very same eyes. The twinkle was even his. She has her mothers smile and the dimple that resides on her left cheek. Her laugh has a genuine tinkle and rhyme that only comes from pure innocence and love.

I can only hope that this tiny blessing, who had a rocky beginning, will be able to see the strength in her mother and all that was sacrificed for her. I know that my life would be drastically different had I not made the decision to help Shay raise her daughter, but I also know that the difference, would be a mistake. I have had a glimpse into the world of motherhood. You see, I was told years ago that I would never be a mother. Today, I beg to differ. A mother is friend, a confidant, a cherished soul. A mother is a person that could never be replaced. In all of this, I feel I was the one being rescued. I was the lost soul that felt there was nowhere to go. I needed that depth that only a friendship could bring and I found it so deeply in the most inopportune moment. I found it in deep, unquenching sadness and loss. The broken road I thought I had been handed, turned out to be paved in gold. I often find myself standing alone, watching as Shay hugs her daughter. I hear them giggle and sing, play and laugh. I find great peace in knowing that I have helped this family, my family, come full circle. I have found that my life’s greatest achievement will never be a plaque on the wall, nor will it be an abbreviation after my name. My greatest achievement will be that I helped my best friend learn to live again.

~EKWisdom, OSU Creative Writing


Katherine said...

Oh, Liz you are amazing!! I wish I could write that well! I love you girlie!! You have a true talent.

Anonymous said...

thanks for loving me like no one else