She gets up for me when it’s hard for her even to walk the length of the floor, and balancing on the one healing side, she hugs me, when I know it hurts to be touched the wrong way. I’m on the way home to a lot of doing she couldn’t now do if she’d like to, and she wishes me well, filled, safe. “Enjoy,” she says, and it’s all light.
I made her flinch once love-patting her knee, the two of us sitting there against the wall, she with her eyes toward the door, as though it would be a dream just to walk outside, just maybe to walk away from a world of persistant pain. So now, I ask. Before I reach, I ask how to show love without hurting her. “Show me how to hug you,” I say to her, because I can’t bear to be excruciating. But she’s all grace, shaking her head against my fumbling.
I ask her what maybe I might bring with me to brighten her day, and she says, “Just you. Seeing you brightens my day,” and I don’t quite understand, because I feel like a dull husk of a thing, like a rag doll fraying at the edges. I know what she means to say—that I’m enough, that my friendship in any form will always be enough, that my empty hands aren’t really empty if they’re open to her. She gives me the gift of abundance, the chance to be more than a castoff blessing. And she gives me the greatest gift a friend can—her real self. She offers me all of it—the stinging wounds, the unhealable truth, the details of what makes her happy. She shows me her knuckles where they’re white from a determined grip on her dreams. She doesn’t hide; she doesn’t lie. She lets me see the anger flash in her eyes. She doesn’t tell me it’s okay when it’s not.
Ann Voskamp wrote,
“Maybe communion can only happen when not only our strong parts are broken and given, but when our broken parts are also given. Maybe communion happens not only when we’re broken and given–but when we give each other our brokenness (The Broken Way, 251)
I’ve not been very good at that, giving my own brokenness, not right out loud, not messy and trembling. It’s easier here, where I can’t see your eyes and maybe watch them glaze; where I know you can slip away if you don’t really want to know; where you can read about my cracks–oh, that they might seep light–and your silence isn’t threatening. But this friend of mine, she’s teaching me right now, pushing herself up out of that chair all fierce-beauty kindled with courage, putting her real self, her vulnerable self, right in my reckless grip.
Love comes all jagged with pain, and she’s not afraid.