Seven and a half years ago, I was anticipating staying home with a baby full time and I was nervous. Our neighborhood was a bit sketchy–we saw our share of suspected drug deals and the language that was shouted by pedestrians was often ugly. When Zoe was born and my mama-bear instincts kicked in, I talked of moving. The phone was my only connection to my dearest friends (including my sister) and I was isolated at home with a baby I was just learning how to parent.
Moving wasn’t really an option and I’m not sure what it would have solved anyway, so I started to pray for a friend. OK, I begged a little.
And when Zoe was about three months old, a tall blonde woman knocked at my door with a white-haired, blued-eyed baby strapped to her chest. This was Emily. She lived only two doors down. She was a Christian. And an educator. And her husband worked in computers. And her daughter was six weeks younger than mine. And, and, and.
Let me just say that I’ve prayed many prayers and begged often, but seldom have requests been granted so big. It was like I asked for a candy bar and God gave me Willy Wonka’s whole factory.
In those first years with our babies home, Emily was the first person I called in the morning with, “what are we doing today?” and the last person I called before Mark got home–so that she and I could both grouse that our husbands had left their Holland jobs (blocks from one another) far too late and we wondered if we could hold on to a squalling baby one moment longer.
The years that have followed have brought more than either of us could imagine. I knew the first time (of many) that Emily rescued me when I was chemo-sick that God had answered my friend request so big for a reason. But when Emily and I hoof it out to Breton and back on our walks or when we watch our daughters exchange messages in a short-hand only time and love can arrange, I also know that God brought us and our families together for more than just the trying times. We have stored up far more laughter than tears.
Tonight we celebrated Emily’s birthday. Our husbands talked computers and movies. Our daughters played with reckless abandon and complained expertly when the evening was over. Like puppies, they will greet one another with great enthusiasm when they are reunited at school in the morning and despair when they are parted. We had a big meal, ate cake, opened presents, and marveled at the enchanted scene with which the girls had set the table.
After it was all over and the dishwasher was humming, Emily and I went out for a walk. It was lovely.
Here’s to you, Emily. Here’s to many more walks. Many more birthdays. And much more laughter. And here’s to a prayer extravagantly answered.