The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.— Henri Nouwen
IN APRIL 1998, TERRY GAVE A KIDNEY TO HIS SISTER CONNIE, ATTEMPTING TO SAVE HER FROM POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY DISEASE. THE OPERATION WAS A SUCCESS AND BOTH TERRY AND CONNIE WERE INTIALLY DOING WELL. BUT SILENTLY A STAPH INFECTION ATE THROUGH THE ARTERY INTO CONNIE’S KIDNEY AND SHE DIED WITHIN A FEW WEEKS OF THE SURGERY.
MY FRIEND ELAINE CALLED ME WHEN SHE HEARD OF THE DEATH. “IS THERE ANYTHING I CANDO FOR YOU?” SHE ASKED. “OH, ELAINE,” I SAID, “PLEASE BAKE US A LOAF OF BREAD.” NOW FOODWAS THE FARTHEST THING FROM MY MIND AT THAT MOMENT. WHAT I WANTED WAS THE IMAGE OF ELAINE, KNOWN FOR HER BREAD BAKING AND HERB GROWING, KNEADING THAT BREAD, PUTTING SOMUCH LOVE FOR TERRY AND ME INTO THAT LOAF—-THEGRACIOUS OFFERING SHE WOULD MAKE FOR OUR COMFORT.
IN JULY 2009, MY PRECIOUS FATHER WAS DYING. MY FRIEND ANN CALLED ME AND SAID “IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO FOR YOU?” AND I SAID “OH, ANN, WOULD YOU BRING ME A CINNAMON CRUSTED BAGEL AND A CUP OF HAZELNUT COFFEE FROM PANERA’S?” IN THIS CASE I WAS THINKING ABOUT FOOD—-I WANTED THE SWEET TASTE OF THAT BAGEL AND THE WARMTH OF THAT COFFEE TO INFUSE NOT JUST MY TASTEBUDS BUT MY SPIRIT, COMFORT FOOD. EVEN MORE THAN THAT I WAS COMFORTED IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT AT THAT MOMENT ANN WOULD HAVE MOVED HEAVEN AND EARTH IF NECESSARY TO BRING ME THAT BAGEL AND COFFEE—OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT I HAD ASKED. AS I WAS ABOUT TO LOSE THE FATHER WHO WOULD HAVE MOVED HEAVEN AND EARTH FOR ME, I WAS BEING SUPPORTED BY A FRIEND WHO WOULD DO THE SAME.
AND THOUGH I SPEAK OF FRIENDSHIP IN TIMES OF GRIEF, THERE IS SO MUCH TO BE SAID FOR THE PLEASURES OF FRIENDSHIP DURING GOOD TIMES. I HAVE SHARED COUNTLESS CUPS OF TEA AND ENDLESS CONVERSATIONS WITH MY FRIEND DIANE. I HAVE MET UP WITH MY COLLEGE GIRLFRIENDS FOR REUNIONS WHERE WE GABBED LATE INTO THE NIGHT. I SHLEPPED MY PORTABLE SEWING MACHINE FROM TENNESSEE TO NORTH CAROLINA MULTIPLE TIMES WHERE MY FRIEND MARY HELPED ME CONSTRUCT T-SHIRT QUILTS. I COULD GO ON. SO MANY FRIENDS. SO MANY GOOD TIMES.
YOU MAY NOTICE THAT NONE OF THESE ACTIVITIES WERE ELABORATE. FRIENDSHIP ALLOWSFOR THE SIMPLEST THINGS TO BE SO SATISFYING. WHAT A BLESSING.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
HOPE’S CAFÉ BONUS: TWO QUOTES I FOUND THAT I ESPECIALLY LOVED: “She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.— Toni Morrison
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” —-Albert Schweitzer
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