The page is blank. It is my beloved friend’s birthday, and there is no way to do her justice. Trust me, I try frequently, filling our message threads with All Of The Words, failing each time to explain all that she means to me.
She looks at me with the kind of love that no one deserves. The kind of love that simply shines, the kind my mother used to pour into me. The really, truly unconditional kind.
Sometimes I am afraid I will drown in so much love.
We are eerily similar in a few key ways and polar opposites in others. A recipe for a durable friendship, one as refreshing as it is soothing.
I am constantly amazed by how much I have opened up and changed and deepened as a result of knowing this fantastic soul. There is not a facet of my life by this point that does not contain at least a few of her fingerprints.
Parenting, of course, for starters: it’s how we met. She was running the playgroup at our birth center when I arrived to check things out while pregnant with Owlet. Her children are six and four, and mine are four and two, with Owlet just six weeks younger than Samwise. Far enough apart to have the benefit of greater experience, close enough to still remember. Her gentle wisdom is woven throughout my parenting approach, despite and because of how different our children are. This is the person I trust most in all the world to raise my kids if anything should happen to both Thor and I, which is no small thing. Heck, she is already partially raising them as a crucial member of our family’s “village.”
Then there’s the more-than-just-moms side of things. We giggle absurdly together like preteens. We talk so long our husbands know to add at least an extra hour to any time estimates on our return home. And we provide one another with the kind of honest-but-compassionate advice every person should have.
And there’s also music, and teaching. Rapunzel’s voice knocks all socks off of all feet within earshot, and nothing is more inspiring to a composer — more delightful to any musician, really — than a voice of that caliber. Plus, I am teaching her to play the violin and learning at least as much in the process as she is (this really ought to be its own separate post one day).
Trickier to define but hugely important, she is a central character in the immense amount of growth this summer is bringing. Sometimes she leads the way, with her open heart and sunny extroversion. At other times she is sounding board and touchstone for my inner spelunking. And I know I am nourishing her, too, though it never seems like I can do enough. Overall we seem to find ourselves traveling adjacent paths, each strewn with our own individual joys and challenges, close enough to help one another navigate the tough spots and delight together in moments beautiful or hilarious or both, yet still able to see our own guiding stars.
I am comfortably, wholly myself with her, and that experience makes it easier to be myself everywhere. I carry her love with me like a well-worn stone in my pocket, and it helps keep my heart brave, my temper in check, my humor quick to ignite, my generosity flowing, my confidence high, my instinct accessible.
Rapunzel, may this birthday bring you all the fun, joy, and happiness you deserve! I love you immensely.
My dad took this photo ages ago. Gorgeous, huh?