I always look forward to November 11th. Not because 11-11 is my favorite numerical combination, which it is, and not because it means only 44 days until Christmas, also true, but because it's my friend MB's birthday.
If you don't know her, then I wish you could meet her. I really mean that, I do. MB is one of those people who is a big shot of good for the world. With her generosity and her humor, I've seen her single-handedly make more people smile than anyone else I know. It's a gift and I've been watching her give it for quite a while now.
There are giving people and there are taking people. Very few people are understanding people. MB is one of the understanding people. She's a friend of the highest order. What she doesn't understand, she still tries, and she'll still accept. All loneliness and fear and worry fade in her presence because of that, because she stands alongside with loyalty. I've had her voice calm me more than once when both head and heart had otherwise lost common sense.
I've seen a lot in life with her. The laughing - which, I gotta tell you, is always there with her, the hard lessons, family - and I'll just leave that at one all-encompassing word on both our parts, comprehension, long free-association conversations, and equally long spells of comfortably shared peace and quiet. We've traveled and camped and discovered, and shared more than a few beers in the sunshine of summer. We've shared our agonizing and wasted hearts, regretted behavior, supported decisions, delighted in each other's childhood stories, confessed dreams, loved pets, and shouldered deaths, as well as spent a heck of a lot of time trying to figure out what it all means and what to do next.
I've seen her ripped so bare that hope and bravery grabbed each other and ran with their tails between their legs right out her front door. I watched her go from not recognizing herself to digging out of the darkness and gathering together all the changes that she did and did not ask for and making them her own, peeling back her scars and planting seeds in the most ravaged areas. And blooming again. Without bitterness. I think that's something you take your hat off to.
In fact, I've never seen her back down from a battle of worthy cause, never seen her back down from an opportunity to grow, and never seen her back down from the truth. That's who she is.
She can also tell a mean story (but you might have to help her stay on topic), and one day I want everyone to hear the one about the time she forgot her manners. She has a incredible sense of humor, loves a good drink, has an energy level that would tire a six-year old, laughs at every opportunity, is immensely talented with a paint brush, and plays a damn good rake. She has and would and will pull over in the pouring rain on a busy road to rescue a stray dog. She has never met a stranger, and would never hesitate to help one. Definitely a big shot of good.
Happy 40th birthday, MB. Years ago, you gave me these words in a frame: Thank you for the laughter you've brought me; thank you for the friendship you've taught me. Likewise my friend. I know I've told you this before, but I'm going to say it again: The world is a better place for your presence in it. Bless your beautiful Coon-Ass heart!