“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.” –TM
Somehow, when I visit home, we always end up alone, if only for just a few minutes.
“How are you doing, babe?” she asks me, and her eyes search my face with such intensity that I’m sure no one has ever cared so much about that answer. And so, each and every time, I tell her; I delve into the big chunks of my life, and she listens while I split them apart and look inside and turn and look at her and ask what they mean. “I think you’re doing the right thing,” she often tells me.
We sit on the porch for many of these conversations, and we watch the sky, and we talk about the people inside, the ones who know us and don’t know us. I tell her about how it all makes me feel, how they make me feel, and unlike most people, when she nods, it’s a movement of understanding. And like she has so many, many times, she gets me again.
She asked me to share this with you, and it occurred to me when I did how much I leave off of this blog. It occurred to me that there are whole slices of my life that you may only get an Instagrammed hint of, because it’s a big, big world and there are many remarkable things. For one thing, she appreciates my words; she reads them intently, and she thinks they’re brilliant in the way that only someone reading them through the hazy lens of love can. But on the other hand, she was worried, you see, that I may have categorized her along with others, that maybe she wasn’t set apart, that maybe she didn’t mean as much as she thought.
When she told me, I smiled and shook my head; “Fret not.”
It’s because she means: She means friend. She means, in the best way, family. She means listening and she means brightness and she means “I’ll take care of you,” and when she says, “Call me if you need me,” she means it; she really, really means it. She lays a constant undertone of love, love, love in my life. She tells me, at least three times a week, that she thinks I’m beautiful. Sometimes I brush it off, it’s true.
But often, it matters.
It matters that she cares about my life, and not just the big, broad bullet points, but the italicized subnotes buried within. It matters that she calls me up to hear my voice, to hear advice, to trade stories. It matters that she’s believed in me since she met me, which happens to be the day I was born, that she has loved me since that minute as well. It matters that when I’m stuck in that dry, barren land of Not Good Enough or Beaten Down or Sadness, she refreshes me with her love. She reminds me, again and again, that I am enough. That I’ll get back up. That tomorrow’s another day. That I am beautiful. And that she loves me.
See, I am selfish. I am writing about her, but it’s all about me. I am telling you everything she gives me, who she is to me. And the point of all of these words is to honor her, and I’ll say it this way: She wouldn’t write it like this. She would write it about me. She would say I’m easy to love, and she would make me believe her.
There have been moments in my life when I’ve looked up and begged Jesus to come in a chariot and deliver me to a different family. And don’t get me wrong; she and I have had our darker moments, the ones that pulled at the strands of our relationship until they nearly popped, and then released to leave the whole thing less breakable than before. But many, many a time, in the midst of the chaos that is a family, I’ve caught her eye and understood: We’re in this together.
She is a gift, a good and perfect gift.
I love you, sister. Thank you for your laughter, your light, and your love. Remember this: No matter how long I live, I’ll always be your little nut.