My heart was both broken and mended today. An old friend stopped by my table at a restaurant. A beautiful, funny, warm soul whom I’ve known since early childhood. We played with Barbies together, climbed into (and fell out of) treehouses, had sleepovers with raucous card games, laughed till we cried and then dropped in and out of each other’s lives for too many years. She married right out of college and started her nursing career and her family. Two occupations she was supremely suited for. She and her husband made a lovely team. I married later and we lost touch but were lucky enough to reconnect when our kids ended up in preschool together.
Today, she shared a sorrow with me that broke my heart. And then she mended it.
Because of his actions, her child – the child who went to preschool with mine – has gone away for a very long time. He had to leave his wife and his child behind along with his parents, his siblings and his whole extended family. When she saw both the shock on my face and the tears in my eyes she knew that I hadn’t known. I held her hand and told her I would have called if I had. I would have given my support. But I didn’t know and my heart was broken for her family. Then she said something like this, “We visited him recently. We love him. What he did was terrible but he will get the help he needs and I know he can heal. We love him.” And my heart was mended. She taught me in just a few words what it means to be a parent. Love. Stand with your child. Keep your arms wide open.
Parenting is hard. Parenting is joyful. Parenting is relentless. Parenting is forever.
What is my job as a parent? What is your job as a parent? My dear, kind old friend said it that day in the restaurant while we held each other’s hands. We love. We stand. We welcome with arms wide open – no matter what.