I was invited to a ladies lunch this past weekend. The invite called together women to celebrate, with gratitude, for showing up for the hostess during a difficult season in her life. She welcomed fifteen or so of us into a small cafe for a meal and connection with strangers. I was nervous to go. Not being one for meeting new people, I coaxed myself into going out, tucked my messy hair into a bun, and drove to the luncheon.
Before we shared a meal, the hostess went around the room introducing each of her guests with a heartfelt message about how they were able to care for her as she cared for her mom, who was losing the battle of dementia. In her thoughtful reflection, she called me her, “life is beautiful” friend, and was grateful for my keen understanding of the pain we go through as humans. She shared that I reminded her, in a time of darkness, perhaps, grief is part of the beauty too.
I felt seen, in that room of strangers, in a way I haven’t for quite awhile. There’s a magic that happens when strangers become vulnerable and when the threads of loss and life and the mess of the middle connect us. By the time she went around the circle, the hostess’ friends were weeping. To be seen, to be a part of the struggle, to value friendship, surrender, and the power of asking for and receiving help is just such a gift. I was floored by the intentionality in celebrating relationship and in saying thank you for the people who carry you through.
A few weeks ago, I found myself home sick. Holding my baby, we watched Mary Poppins as we both recovered from a first family bout of a stomach flu. An infant’s attention span is short. Mary Poppins is long. But I tried to introduce her to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and dancing penguins and stepping in time on the rooftops of London.
I found myself asking where did this desire for good stem from? Where did the grown woman who longs for beautiful things develop her keen awareness for the power of a change of perspective? Mary taught me to turn ordinary into magic. To seek delightful things and to harness the giggles found in the absurd. Harriet the Spy taught me to watch and look just a little bit longer, for humans have complex layers and we probably ought to write about them. And, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle taught me you can have a chandelier on your floor for a fire place and stairs that work in reverse. Pippy Longstocking reminded me to befriend the imaginary creatures and dress as your heart leads you and go on adventures, even in your backyard. Characters who were close to home, willing to observe, and make note of the magic burrowed into my heart, and my way of being in the world.
I’m thankful for the stories that turned me into a seeker of good and a believer in magical things. And I’m grateful, for the women who continue to nurture me in this lifelong pursuit. To be called out as a “life is beautiful” friend stunned me a bit. Yes, the searching is in my essence. And in these virtual pages my journey continues. Thank you, readers, for being my life is beautiful friends, as well.