We sipped lemon water in plastic Muskoka chairs at the side of my house, a little stone patio shaded by large maples and my neighbour’s garage. My friend had stopped by in the middle of a lazy afternoon. My kids were with their father and I had taken a break from laundry and nervous thinking.
“Your mind is racing,” she said. “I can see it.”
I had been staring at the leaves shift and flutter in the breeze allowing momentary twinkles of sunlight to show. “You always can,” I replied.
She adjusted her gold-rimmed aviators and drew lines in the moisture from her glass. The day was warm. “It’s a new phase for you.”
“Yes,” I said taking a deep breath. “I know. I know I should be alone for a while.”
My friend kept her gaze focused on the water in her glass. “Well, I have a problem with ‘shoulds’. They are rarely helpful. It’s quite possible that it will be good for you to be single for a time, but if you aren’t willing to heal or learn then I’m not sure it matters all that much.”
I half-coughed, half-laughed. “It feels like all I’ve been doing is healing and learning these past few years!”
“Oh darling, I do love you, but let’s be honest: You’ve done your fair share of avoiding as well.”
My gut tightened at the suggestion that I was less-than perfect despite my being keenly aware of the fact. A rebuttal was right there on the tip of my tongue, but I silenced it just in time.
She waved a hand. “I’m not saying you don’t deserve some distraction. We all do. I only mean to say…well, you know what? Why don’t you tell me where you’re at?”
I set my glass down on the ground beside my foot and wiped my hands on my black cotton dress. “I’m over him.”
“My former husband. And believe you me, there were months and months where I felt sure it would never happen, but it did.”
“OK,” she said shifting slightly and leaning back in her chair.
“But I’m not over what happened. I’m still reeling.” I put my head in my hands and mumbled. She was close enough to me, I told myself. She could hear. “I’ve thought about falling in love, a lot actually. And anytime I let the feeling come, I had to quickly push it aside.”
I sighed and bit my lip. “Because it felt like walking into a room full of people each waiting to tell me something horrible. But it was also like I didn’t know they had bad news until I had already walked inside and then the door gets bolted shut behind me. And I’m left there…trapped in a room full of awful surprises.”
“Yes,” was all she said.
“And I know this happens to everyone. I know everyone gets their heart broken at some point.”
“I’m not special.”
My friend smiled.
“And that room full of people?” I continued.
“I know it’s all made up in my head. I know it’s all based on my past experience.”
She nodded. “And yet?”
I released a long breath and picked my glass up again, taking a long sip. “Exactly.”
“The not-knowing is hard. But you can face this. And it doesn’t matter how, it only matters that you do and that you do it with Spirit. But can I make a suggestion?”
I smiled at her asking permission to help me. “Of course.”
“Try to remember how fun you are.”
That wasn’t at all what I had expected her to say. “Fun?”
She laughed at me. “Yes, fun. You, my dear, are a joy to be around. It could do you a lot of good to remember that.”
I was taken aback. “Goodness…” I had been taking myself and my problems so seriously. Fun. Was it possible I was fun? Was it possible that I could be of value when I wasn’t taking care of someone else? Was it possible for me to be loved for exactly who I am? Was it possible to get over what happened?
My friend read my thoughts once again with a wide grin on her face. “Yes,” was all she said.