Things, I am convinced, come in threes. I have all sorts of strange and superstitious ideas, all manner of thoughts regarding the exact way that things should happen. I’m pretty sure that rain on a wedding day is good luck, that walking under ladders is bad, and that black cats carry no blessing or curse, but simply are. And I believe that things come in threes.
Three total losses, three messy files, three car accidents.
My first best friend died a few weeks ago. Her name was Marci and I’d forgotten how we used to call ourselves the twins, because we were born only two days apart. I remember playing with Marci and with her older sister, Mandy.
We don’t know what happened, but in a head on collision the spark that was Marci was extinguished here on earth. I think that maybe we all have candles somewhere, candles guarded from a passing breeze, all sitting and flickering in the shadows of a church, at the base of an altar, with little metal labels on the outside of each candle holder telling who we really are; beloved. Sometimes the candles suddenly burn brighter. This is when we no longer shine down here.
I am picturing Marci as I have seen her in photographs, I see her walking down that path, I see her setting up shop in the campground, picking wildflowers and putting them in a vase. I see her journey as it continues, as she journeys deeper into the love of God.
As sad as I am to know that the first person outside of my family whom I truly loved is no longer with us, I did not know the woman that she became. I am sad now for her mother, sad for her sister. I cannot imagine losing my own sister, to me it is the same thing as dying myself; not worthy of contemplation.
Another friend had an accident last week, I looked at the photos of her car and was amazed. Amazed that she is still alive and telling the tale, amazed that she was spared.
Now I am waiting for number three and hoping it isn’t my own number that is called.
Tonight I took dinner to that friend who happens to be married to my husband’s oldest friend, and I don’t mean to sound braggish, but I am just very satisfied to know that one thing has been checked off the list over at their house. Dinner is done and ready and the people are fed, it gives me such pleasure just to feed the people.
Sadly my regular feeding of the people is drawing to a close, I will come back, of course, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Coppage Gordon school of ministry is in my future. And I simply cannot go to what amounts to seminary and still do all of the things I do now.
My brother asked me the other day how I found the discernment process to be. And the parts before the process, the constant tug, the pull to do more and to be more than another volunteer in a soup kitchen, that was the hardest part. I felt almost as though I was coming out, coming clean with all of the people who knew me. I felt almost ashamed to say, I would like to sing the gospel. I would like to set the table.
I found our period of discernment to be grace filled once I slowed down enough to see it. I found that learning about the really hard parts of life the people who are my friends have experienced was enlightening, and I was honored to be trusted with their stories. I felt that they pushed back, that they asked questions. I hope, and think, though, that in the end the call is crystal clear.
I wonder if they will let me behind the counter at school, into the kitchen, if they will let me clear up, or wash down tables. I looked at the schedule for classes and I promise you, I put my head down and I cried. It is so hard for me to be away, away from my home, from my people.
It is hard for me to get to know new people, to talk with them or to, frankly, care deeply for them. I seem to take a long time to become attached.
It’s been ten days since I last wrote and I am feeling the rust, the dis-use. Here I thought I would sit down and my hands would fly over the keys and my words be expansive and beautiful and it hardly seems as though I can put together a sentence.
Casey came home a while ago, sweating and out of breath. He told me they were working today and the boss man went to buy a basketball. And then they stopped in the heights and played 21, and then they got their wish, a pickup game.
And they won against guys half their ages.
I can see these men, one of whom is the husband of the second car accident victim, I can see them in their red shirts burning off the steam and frustration that is being a married person with kids. I can hear the grunts as bodies smack into each other, the chain that is the net as the ball swooshes through.
I told Casey I was just about done. I am tired. I worked and I did the dishes, I picked up the same ten things and put them away, then I did the dishes again. And I did two dinners and stopped to see my friend who was looking lovelier than me (who was not in a car accident, for the record) in her bright dress, even in a cast with huge screws sticking out of it.
I looked at her face and I thought of the other. And when my friend said how her kids have taken to sleeping next to her bed I understood it. Because the hearts of children, while still growing and becoming tame, have at times a wild whisper. Children know all that is and all that could have been, even if they do not truly understand. They know that if their mama had been two more feet into the intersection I would not have visited her today, would not have stood in her kitchen while her mother in law and another friend bustled around.
Kaia asked where all the men are? I said they are out doing what men do, which is heavy lifting, which is providing. That when things like this happen it is the women who show up, who weave the red tent, who understand how much worse it could have been and pay for the blessings in food and company.
And I thought of my sister, and I prayed fervently for her safety. For her peace of mind and for her beautiful soul.
I will survive school and being away, and I think I can smile my way into the kitchen.
As Lauren O’Connell would say, it’s not so bad that I call it habit, just something I can’t see to stop wanting to do.
And you will survive too, for wherever you are, I see you. And it is so important to be seen, to have someone realize where you are. I see you. And I love you, I am walking with you on this path and I know that you are worn out and breathless and sick to death of the journey. But I’m here, and soon dusk will fall. Another one in the books, and we will make camp for the night. And I love you.