I’m sure you all know my friend Kelly. She’s mentioned here quite often.
Well, what you may not know is this.
She and I met in the 5th grade. We remember it very differently. She’ll tell you I was the first person who was nice to her when she moved to our school. I’ll tell you I was impressed by her long fingernails. They were probably both true, just different perceptions of the same moment.
That’s how we are. We are very different people, we see the world in two vastly opposite ways. What, then, draws us together? I can’t speak for her (well, I totally could, but I won’t) but for me, it’s because she knows the me I used to be. When I’m with her, I’m able to remember the girl who got all giddy because New Kids on the Block were coming to town. Now, when I feel that way as an adult, her friendship reminds me that you’re never too old to love something like that. She gives me freedom and innocence and happiness.
It’s a wonderful feeling.
We were thick as thieves for most of our lives. Then, around the age of 22, we had a fight. A huge, nasty fight. And we let that fight get the better of us and we lost touch and let go of each other. We went our separate ways and lived separate lives. I thought of her all the time. I missed her every moment of that time. My sister will tell you that when she was fighting with her best friend and she wanted to let go, I told her not to. “You’ll regret it”. My exact words. I was speaking from experience. I did regret it. I tried to find Kelly, but she had moved and I didn’t know how to track her down.
Then, in December of 2007, she sent my parents a Christmas card. Out of the blue. They hadn’t heard from her in years. I was stunned when my mother showed me the card. It was a photo card of Kelly, her husband, and their little girl. I had heard that she had gotten married, but she had a baby? I actually cried when I saw that card. It made me so very sad. I knew everything there was to know about Kelly, but I didn’t know she had a child.
I sent a card back to that address and I included my email. I figured it might be my last chance to reconnect with an old friend. It was the right choice. A few days later, I got a response. She wanted to meet. We made a date and got together for dinner. I was nervous. She was pregnant with baby #2.
Our conversation was odd, a little stilted. We weren’t the same people, but we fell into the same patterns. It felt the same, but it was very, very different.
We chatted occasionally. A few weeks later, she called to tell me that her son was born. I didn’t visit at the hospital, because I honestly wasn’t sure I was welcome. That’s a pretty personal time and we’d only been in touch a few weeks. Later, she told me she was disappointed I didn’t come.
Now, years have passed. Almost five years since we reunited. We’ve traveled together, I’ve gotten to know and love both of her beautiful children. I’ve become friends with her husband and delightfully discovered he’s almost as good at trivia as me! We’re close, once again. It makes me happy to be a part of her life and to have her as my friend. It’s wonderful to know someone who can say, remember that time in 1989?
On July 31, she called me at work to ask if she and the kids could spirit me away for lunch. This was the infamous day of Lousy the Lobster. During lunch, she sent the kids off to take pictures with her camera and once they were away from the table, she handed me a giant book of baby names and asked me if I’d help.
The moment my brain registered what she was telling me, I didn’t know what to say. I don’t think I reacted very well. Not badly, but just not overjoyed. Sorry, Kelly, if you were disappointed. Inside, I was roiling with emotion. I was excited and happy and thrilled and nervous and scared and nostalgic and sad and probably a thousand more things I’ll never fully realize.
I’ve had some time, while waiting for her to officially announce the news, to sort through the way that I feel.
What it comes down to is this. I feel a sense of wonder, much akin to finding out my sister was pregnant for the first time. (The second time, too, but it was far more pronounced the first time.) There is this feeling that someone who is close to you, someone you love very much, is bringing a new life into this world. That our family of friendship is about to grow one person stronger.
It’s so breathtaking and beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.
In this case, in Kelly’s case, it is the first time in our lives that we get to go through this together. I wasn’t there for Victoria and Christian. Kelly never got to tell me she was pregnant. (For the record, the way you told me was perfect, I still smile when I see that book. Plus, I got a new book out of the deal. You know how I love books!)
I never got to talk baby names with her or dream about whether it would be a boy or a girl. We never got to sneak away for an unhealthy dinner because she’s pregnant. I never felt her babies kick.
For a long time (well, the past five years) I never thought I would. And now I do. It was so surprising and unexpected and it is the very best news.
Right now, until next spring, I’ll keep on delighting in the fact that both of my sisters are pregnant at the same time. That by the time “birthday season” officially begins, I’ll have two new birthdays to add to the list.
I’ll keep on waiting until the new baby arrives. The wonder will continue to build. Then, on the day the baby is born, all that wonder will explode into pure and everlasting love for this new little life.
Congratulations Kelly, Mark, Victoria, and Christian.