She drew her knees to her chin and tilted her face in that way she had of inviting you in. Her eyes smiled gently as she relaxed into the telling of my story. And when I had spoken it all, she listened even longer. This is how things always begin with her.
Her turn to share was on her and she knew it, but seemed somehow reluctant. As she began to tell about the thing that had developed, the news she'd had to bear, she became vulnerable and delicate to me. Her strength was obvious. Her trust could not be overlooked. Her faith was immovable. She began the journey of this diagnosis, this label, this new life, with all of the hallmarks the woman of faith I know her to be. But in this moment, I only felt her delicate vulnerability.
My friend C, is one of the strongest people I know, but the strength she possesses is unlike the kind I have definitions for. She's the kind of listener most people never have the advantage of experiencing. She's the kind of loyal you wouldn't understand unless you knew her. She's the kind of love you didn't really believe existed outside of fiction. She's like that.
What's going on in her life is, to once again steal my friend Carolyn's phraseology, is "blowing all of my categories". See, for most of us, maybe all of us, the kind of news she and her husband received would be devastating. It would be the kind of news we couldn't imagine ever adjusting to or finding a way to deal with. But for them, for her, the word that first came to my mind as she shared it was, beautiful. We're talking about a diagnosis that is at once painful, debilitating, limiting....and yet beautiful. SO BEAUTIFUL!
You don't get to know many people like this C. in a lifetime. People who don't just fight to see beauty but naturally seem to have a sort of tunnel vision for it. It's like somehow the other, the darkness of a situation, isn't even on their radar. But don't misunderstand me. It's easy to think of people like this as somehow less smart, less savvy, less .... just, less. But I know C. I know how painfully aware she is of the darkness. And while she doesn't necessarily have to work to push it out, she isn't too stupid to see it either. It's a gift she has and one her husband shares. To be near them is to be near, not just Christ, but somehow, heaven. Sometimes the promises of heaven are a juxtapose for us. They are just too good to be believed. I wish you all could know her. Because to experience her is to begin to understand the juxtapose, the paradox. And you would know it's truth, too good as it may seem, because of the way it's standing there, in the concrete, right in front of you.
Thanks C, for being heaven on earth for your little N. and for the rest of us too!