I asked her how she was and she cried.
We were on the playground, the winter wind bit at my ears, made my eyes leak, my nose run.
I was pushing my daughter. The little girl laughed as the swing returned to me each time, her feet bumping my abdomen. I exaggerated my reaction. “Argh! You got me AGAIN.” She giggled that little-girl laughter that makes everything better.
But my friend who I hardly know was crying and I was instantly guilty for asking her how things were going, for causing those tears just then on the playground, for not knowing what to say next or how to help.
I kept pushing my little girl, and then the grown-up girl told me, her voice low. Her husband had a health scare … the hospital … meds … his heart … he’s OK but what if he’s not ….
Scary stuff is what happened in her world this week. Scary stuff she told me later she hasn’t been able to tell anyone else. Her husband asked her not to, plus it’s hard to tell people you love scary, real-world, what-if-he’s-not-OK stuff. I get it.
So she told me about her worries. About health insurance. About maybe having to go back to work herself. About her husband. About her kids. About her. About priorities and how they’re ever-changing. We talked about how in the world we ever truly know what the right choice is, where that balance lies.
I told her the sun rises each morning whether we want it to or not, whether our dispositions are in the right place or not, whether we’re going to choose to be happy or positive or sulking or panicked, whether we’re going to live in fear or just say, “Well, fuck it,” and get on with putting one foot in front of the other, doing our best to live one day at a time.
And, yeah. I told her I realized it was easy for me to stand there and say all that but actually living that way when all that stuff is happening to you and not the acquaintance on the playground is a much different matter. I told her: I get it.
And I told her I’m sorry, that I’m here if she needs anything else. Ever.
I have two nights left in this yellow house. I am sad. But I am hopeful. Hopeful that even though this is the house where my future husband and I fell in love, where my kids finally felt like they were home … where I did, too … that something better is up ahead, around the bend.
I know it is.
It has to be, right?
I’m going to believe it is. For all of us. For me and the rockstar and our kids. For my friend on the playground. For everyone worried about something. Let’s wake up and believe the wind will blow our way. Once and for all.