“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
― Donald Miller
As I walked with my friend, the heaviness in her spirit was written on her lovely face, dampening her normal radiance. She was feeling guilty and frustrated. One of her dearest friends had called to lambaste her, letting her know in no uncertain terms that she had failed miserably as a friend. Apparently there was some sort of friend code that had been broken, a specific sort of support that had been withheld. My friend had had no idea she was so neglectful. She hadn’t even known the friendship code existed.
Sitting back on the couch, I tucked my feet under me to get more comfortable. I looked around the room at the group of young ladies sprawled about, some on the floor leaning against the brick hearth, others settled into plush furniture like me, eager to hear what would come next. We came from various backgrounds and most had only been married a short while. Being the oldest student, I’d been married the longest, eight years, but the differences didn’t matter much in this place.
“What do you think about…?” Hands wrapped around her steaming mug, my friend leaned forward with an open expression. I looked down at my own latte and contemplated the designs swirled into the foam by the talented barista. Not wanting to give a trite response, I took a moment to answer. I feel honored when my friend asks my opinion because I know she takes my words seriously. Even when she disagrees with my stance. Taking a deep breath, I launched into my thoughts on the topic. Our coffee date this month was sure to be a lively one.
There are two dangerous times of the year for homeschoolers. The first is two to four weeks into a new school year. Your enthusiasm flies out the window as you realize all of your carefully plotted lessons need to be scrapped because:
- The curriculum your friend raves about, that you spent an embarrassing amount of money on, might as well be written in Greek for all the sense it makes to you.
- Your kids are struck with a terminal case of Leaky Brain Syndrome and forgot everything from the last school year.
- And my personal favorite; you find out that you are pregnant. Again.
The woman stepping into the elevator likely had no idea how profoundly she would affect my parenting. She was an athletic looking woman, smartly dressed, with stylish graying hair; I pegged her to be somewhere in her 50’s. Her gaze immediately lighted upon my two children and she smiled.
My husband and I were standing sentinel behind two brightly colored umbrella strollers. The kids were snugly wrapped in winter gear for a walk by the beach. We were on a weekend vacation on the coast, our customary getaway since we’d first been married. After children, it was harder to get away alone, so we were experimenting with taking the kids along.
“Are they twins?” The woman inquired.
Her breathing was so shallow, I thought she was dead. Relief washed through me. Then her nose twitched and I felt a pang of guilt. She sighed and heaved herself to a standing position. Lurching like a small, furry drunkard across the cage floor, she settled beside the hanging water bottle. It seemed to take enormous energy; poking her tiny, pink tongue at the metal ball to release a drop of water.
We had seen that Xena, my daughter’s beloved pet rat, was declining. But on this day, it was as if some cosmic vitality switch had been flicked. Her life was at an end, she just didn’t know it yet. For two days we watched her lackluster breathing. Her movements were jerky and frightening. Listless, she looked at us with bulging eyes that bled.
I parted my daughter’s hair and tilted her head into the sunlight. Peering closely at her so-white scalp, I breathed an inward sigh of relief. Clear. I continued to part and peer, part and peer. Nearly done. Then I saw it. A tiny black speck nestled in among the golden strands. Motionless, I could almost believe it was a bit of dust. Almost. But I knew better. My shoulders slumped as I reached for the tweezers.