We're sitting across from our dear friends sharing breakfast together. It's been awhile - there's lots to catch up on. He's a Paramedic who's just completed advanced training which certifies him to perform procedures in the field that the average paramedic cannot. This training was gruelling, technical and a long haul. He tells us bits and pieces about the journey of getting from there to here - it's a relief to be finished. But when he talks about his work it's his tales of the way he cares for people's spirits, the human interactions, and the words he has said that stop me in my tracks and I start to cry.
"Do you know, I say, how significant your presence is?"
Tim Hortons. Lunch Hour. Family of five sitting around the table eating and talking. Suddenly there is someone standing behind us - the 17 year old daughter of my cherished friend. She's just passing through, she tells me. With her are 3 other teenagers - all in Winnipeg on a shopping trip. They're not buying things for themselves or their families. They've taken their money and are buying up warm winter clothes at the thrift stores to pass out to people on the street this week. She has a sparkle in her eye as she tells us about it.
She's got the same heart that leans in the direction of everyone else that her momma's got. Deposits put there from a lifetime of watching the offering always leaving their front door. Hearing stories and seeing the response.
Now she's the one responding.
That momma's done good.
That's why I surround myself with her words and crave her presence.
We're back at the girl's old school. It seems so big since we've left. There's been an addition and changes which make the building we enter look foreign and cold. The girls are here to surprise their friends by spending the lunch hour with them. Hannah is jittery. It's been a long time. She was supposed to be back this year already and never returned.
So much has changed.
I walk her down the long hall to the grade six classroom where many of her friends make their home. We poke our heads around the corner of the door and she is instantaneously greeted with shrieks and screams and a gigantic embrace. They say her name and put their arms around her - welcome her back into the fold.
Just remembered and seen.
A place that still exists just for her.
Isn't that what we all want?
We were supposed to meet up last night after her shift at work. It was going to be late, but it would be worth it. Christmas is busy, so carving out an hour for the two of us to really talk (you know what I mean) wasn't easy. We've been on the same road, this dear one and I. Our road is bumpy. It's got a lot of detours and twists and turns. We've navigated it together and pulled each other off the shoulder now and then. Her ears are some of the few to which I can say, "I can't find my way back" without fear of failure.
I was looking forward to our time together all day. Thinking of the questions I wanted to ask and the stories I wanted to hear. Knowing my story would be sought after and held thoughtfully and carefully like only she can do.
But the day was long.
The night was going to be short.
I was feeling pulled and was verging on empty.
The text was written, "I can't meet you after all."
I pressed send with regret, but not with fear.
She knows me, this journey mate.
And her reply of "I get it" and "I love you" was just what I expected from her.
There is no judgement there. No questioning of sanity or motives. Both are understood and known.
And that is why the visit that never happened is one of the most significant ones of all.