Saturday, February 26, 2005

Relations

In 1993, while in San Francisco and watching my friend and her mother in a fierce argument, not knowing what to do, I picked up a book from the bookshelf, flipped it open and focused my eyes on a single sentence. Friends are God’s apology for relations. I’ve always thought that particularly funny, in that sort of way that real humor is funny because it’s true and your laughter is due to the recognition and relief that you are not alone. Simple enough. I have one relative, one in particular, who is not related to me in any way beyond the fact that my brother married her. And when he did, I must say, so did I. I don’t know if she’s an apology from God for this messed up family I’m part of, but I do know she’s a real gift. Besides my brother, two other people in the family fell head over heels for her: My father and I.

When my brother first began dating Kathy, he described her to me along the lines of how I was going to love her because she was blond, a Leo, she smoked, and she drank champagne. With that resume, I couldn’t wait to meet her! That was some years ago. She became in a very short time, someone I knew I could trust, someone I opened up to and didn’t worry at all about what I was placing before her because hers was an open mind and she genuinely wanted to get to know me and I wanted to know her. So, over time, we went there. We got to know each other. We took time on our own and we discovered each other. And what a discovery it was. She became the big sister that I never really had. She became my mentor. She became a person I thanked God for every night, not only because my brother had found her and married her and I was so happy for him, but because by doing so he gave her to the family, and by that, I quite selfishly mean me.

There are certain things that are seared onto your heart, things you know you’ll never forget, and I don’t mean the things you hope to never forget, I mean the things you know you never will. When it was confirmed to me by the now nameless and faceless policeman that my father had died, I walked into the livingroom and Kathy was the first person I turned to and said, he is gone. And it’s unclear who collapsed first but I do know that our arms held each other up. You see, Dad loved Kathy so much that when she lost her own father, Dad came to me and asked me if I would mind if he referred to Kathy as his daughter. My words now, but what he meant was would I mind if he brought her in and made her his. To his heart, to his life, to his stewardship. And he didn't want to be restricted by the "in-law" languange. Dad knew that while he could never fill her father’s shoes, he could take over the job of guiding her and loving her. Did I mind? Not for a second. Did I love my father all the more for it? Absolutely. Did it kill me to tell her that we had lost him? Yes, because I knew it was going to cripple her.

It’s not easy being part of this family. But she’s made it easier. She brought us a field of green. She brought us laughter and love and effort and compassion. She brought us calm seas. She tickles the clouds and makes them move on to brighter days. That’s who she is. She brought a sparkle to my father’s eyes in the glistening sort of father and daughter way that I’ve only otherwise seen my niece and I produce. He was so proud of her, of her character and morals, of what she brought my brother, my family, of what she accomplishes every day in her profession. And though I could have been jealous when he would wave her accomplishments around the dinner table, in actuality, I was right there, hanging on every word, loving his pride and feeling it right beside him. Oh yeah, I was right there, bragging along with him, my eyes just as swelled with pride. In my life, she has brought, and I do hate to use this cliché but it fits here so I will say it, she has brought unconditional love. I trust her. Really trust her. There have been some heated times when our opinions were north to south but never once endangering the love, respect or affection. And never once stepping on the other’s absolute right to her own opinion. Not a single time have we argued and I felt the dread of wonder if we’d still be talking the next day. That’s not what she and I are about together. She is my friend, and what a friend she is. Just this morning, we spent over an hour on the phone, missing Dad and worrying about my brother, my mother, my nephew, my niece, each other, and working it all in every direction because we have some very real problems right now, on top of the loss, and it matters and we want to figure out where the answers are. She does that with me, just works every angle with me. And even when we cannot find a solution, what I do find is that there is a person out there who is so on my side that the lines are blurred and I feel that she is as much a part of me as my own heart. I do not say that lightly.

Kathy is my miracle, my grace, my gift, my friend. She is my brother’s partner and his best friend, and she has encouraged to surface so many wonderful things in him, and helped him to be the wise, wonderful, gentle and also strong man that he is, but that’s not what this particular post is about. Kathy has become my friend. Although I should be too mature to use the term, truth be told, she’s my best friend. I cherish her. And though it’s what made me want to meet her, let me tell you that hair color, Sun signs, cigarettes and champagne have nothing at all to do with who we are together today. Okay, well, maybe champagne, but if I can make or hear a toast and clink my glass of champagne with anyone in the world, and look them in the eye and KNOW THAT SHE GETS IT AND IS RIGHT THERE WITH ME, let me tell you, I always want it to be her. Always. Because it cannot and could not be anyone else. So Kathy, if you’re reading this, and I know that you are, know this: I love you. I.Love.You. So very much.

3 comments:

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Sass said...

Okay so the "mother hen" at my office who is a few years younger than my mother lost her fater in law a day ago. She has boys my age and looks as me as a daughter.

Here is the thing about your writing, it's universal. You have an amazing gift of expressing yourself and making others feel what you feel and adapting it fot their own. On a random wihm (however you spell whim) I linked back to you and this post. You are a gift.