Today is the day that your tooth hurts and you’re lonely. My turn to be on the other end of the phone while you cry without changing your voice much. Mostly you’ve done that for me, listened to tears over the phone — all of a sudden I’d be quiet and you always knew. But this time it’s you, sitting in your beautiful room with the kitchen table, blue vase in yellow frame, purple sneaker in black frame, shells and rocks on the window ledge so the cracks in the walls and the ceiling hardly matter. You’ve started sanding the old round oak table, so it’s partly worn, partly on its way to being renewed. The chairs are a bit wobbly but nothing to fall down over. The view is of spring, unabashed. And none of the things, even the view, help the lonely. I understand.
I know how to do this, how to sit quietly and let things come out over the phone line, tears fall and somehow keep talking, because you taught me. You taught me how to love my family, blood and water. You taught me gentle concern and more fierce concern, the giving and withholding of advice, the listening. You’ve done that for so many people and I am in your image, in that way, and I have a bounty of friends because of this. I can’t stand the thought of you lonely because so much of the peopled joy in my life is because of you – I am rich in friendship, and you deserve the same.
I believe you also have this bounty, but you doubt yourself and it enough to not leap in and realize its plenty, plumb the depths of friendships, allow them to unfold, make new ones. Because as a friend you are immeasurably fine. Anybody – everybody – should be so fortunate as to have you walking beside them, or on the other end of the phone line or across the worn kitchen table with cups of raspberry leaf tea between you. Everybody loves rye crackers and goat cheese, mom, because they don’t usually have it for lunch. Simple fare is no reason not to invite – and invite again, and again.
I love you deeply dearly.