“Kaity is coming to dinner! I love Kaity!” I am standing in the side yard but can hear his six year old voice bellowing through the kitchen and into the family room, out toward their front door. As Hope and I head down the road to finish our walk before mealtime I can’t help but hoist my eyes upwards and smile.
“Okay. I get it.”
* * *
My Friday night plans were canceled unexpectedly, leaving me wondering what I would do with myself – and entire unplanned weekend stretching before me. It seemed sad – that my life had come to this place of no plans when just months ago it seemed there wasn’t enough time in the day to fit in everything I hoped to do and everyone I hoped to see.
But I had to acknowledge that it was also perfect. My new philosophy involves a lot of blank space and little forceful action on my part, and forty-eight open hours seemed like a pretty good canvas for God to work with.
* * *
Saturday morning dawned sunny and cool so I pulled out Bea and took her for a ride to the VMFA where I filled a last minute volunteer spot at Project Yoga’s Saturday Salutations. I laid my mat out on the deck for practice – wide open space surrounding it – and went on my way to sign people in for the next hour or so.
As I slowly picked my way through yogis, working toward my mat, part of me dreaded what was coming. A practice surrounded by strangers – friends and couples who had come to class together, making me a third wheel without even knowing it. I found my mat – another empty one now next to it. This mat looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.
I heard someone whisper my name from behind me and turned to see my “adopted big sister” [and de facto big brother (although I don’t think he knows he holds the title)] on mats directly behind me. As she and I blew kisses to each other a friend I had made just a few weeks before plopped himself on the familiar mat next to mine with a smile.
When I was so sure I was alone, it turned out I was surrounded by friends.
* * *
The day continued to unfold in this unexpected way. A bike ride home from yoga with a month-old friend. The dinner invite from the neighbors who have taken care of me for the last six months, a last minute trip to the farmer’s market with another new friend. None of it planned. None of it initiated by me.
As you may have gathered, if I’ve become clear about nothing else in this space I have become clear that we are given what we need – our daily bread – even though it may look nothing like what we think we want. Or even what we think we need. God shows up with the very blessing we require and plops it right there in our lives.
But most of the time we’re too busy trying to fit a square peg in a round hole to realize what He’s trying to hand to us.
* * *
“How are you feeling?” he asks as his arms wrap around me in a hug. Its not even 8am on Sunday and I’m still being reminded that I am not alone. The day continues in this very fashion – I am on the receiving end of hugs before and after church. My empty table at the coffee shop becomes filled with friends who have come into my life in recent months. I spend hours longer than expected sharing life stories with a woman I only ever knew through social media until that afternoon.
That wide open weekend? He filled it right up with what I needed most – love.
* * *
As the cicadas chirped and the sun fell below Libbie Hill, I felt her fingers find mine between the blades of grass. My left hand reached to find another hand nestled in the field. The three of us lay there, fingers entwined, breathing slowly as our practice neared its end. Every part of me was aware of the other darling women surrounding me on all sides – their energy seeping into my bones.
Some of these women I knew before all this began, others I had never met before. Those I knew I didn’t know well or for long. But they came in and sat and hugged and cried. They came and they listened and they smiled and they laughed. They brought life to a space that didn’t know what life even was anymore and the loved me each and every day – twice on the days when I couldn’t quite love myself.
What I wanted – what I thought I needed – was a man to care for me in this space. To make all the decisions and handle the doctors and tell me how to survive this tragic turn of events. A partner who would deal with the finances and keep the yard up and reassure me that it would all come out okay. This is what I wanted.
It was not what I needed.
What it turned out I needed was a strong tribe of women to stand alongside me as I made the decisions. As I learned to listen to God and my heart and give voice to what I was hearing. A circle of love that did not care how I looked or if I cried or how terrified or empowered I felt in a given minute. These women – now surrounding me as the sun set around us – they are what I needed.
My daily bread was not in the form of the partner I thought I wanted, but the love of women I had no idea I needed.