Those are extra fancy congratulations! And they are in order for me and my friend.
When I was in high school, zooming off in the morning to school in my excellent 1980 Mercury Monarch, my sisters and I were busy at school with cheerleading, basketball, volleyball, being beautiful (mostly my youngest sister on that one), getting into trouble (youngest two sisters you know who you are), softball, homework and friends. We zoomed back home late at night and kept up that pace most every day.
I barely noticed new neighbors moving in across the street. I noticed what I imagined to be cool things like motorcycles, fast cars, and people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. I could only imagine what kind of hijinks they were up to. These new neighbors weren’t like the old ones, from what I could see. I imagine my own preoccupations took up my brain space and I never once thought to go over and welcome them to the neighborhood. (A belated welcome, BCDC).
Soon I graduated and moved away. The neighbors traded the fast cars for a minivan and the people coming and going for trips to the pool and well-baby checkups as their children came along. When I finally moved back to my hometown, I had four children under the age of 6 months (exaggeration). However old my kids were, my brain was completely preoccupied with their safety, emotional well-being, and their questions (appx 24 per hour).
Neighbors kids grew up, like kids go. My kids grew up. Long story short, I moved with Greg and Kepler back to the street where I grew up. Really only saw the neighbors in passing. I fancied myself a victim of multiple traumas from the past and present and was again preoccupied with my own stuff.
Then last summer my phone rang and on the other end was this neighbor. 40 years and we’re about to have our first conversation. He asked if I was available to help with some daily physical therapy tasks he needed to do to get back on his feet after a couple surgeries. I said yes.
Weeks passed and we completed the first phase of his therapy, and moved into a new phase of really focusing on strength and mobility. Three, or four, or five times a week, we met for a hour and I “put him through his paces.”
I imagine I did a whole lot of talking in the beginning. I imagine I heard lots of (very interesting) stories about his life and experiences. I imagine I might have given TMI because I was so engrossed with the urgency of my experience with my son and his addiction, and the importance of multiple other situations in my life.
We took a break for a month over December because of health issues and Christmas. When we returned to working together, I was in the throes of grief about the very recent addiction-fueled events that had broken my trust and my heart. I imagine my friend is steady, faithful, and unflappable. I appreciate that about him.
The birth of their first grandchild was quickly approaching and then it came and I imagine I experienced an immense privilege in getting to celebrate with them. Although my friend is open with friends about his experiences I notice I want to protect his privacy so I am including no photos of him or his most adorable grandbaby.
Now, almost a year to the day of the phone call, my friend has graduated to an entirely new phase of physical activity and vibrancy, and has the privilege of going to a health facility to use and enjoy the workout equipment. We have completed our work together. I imagine I feel bittersweet about this milestone. I am so happy he is ready to move on, and I will so much miss seeing him and having that hour multiple times a week to catch up on all the little details of life.