SJ: Mom, I'm so excited! I made a new friend! She's from Hawaii. You're gonna love her.
Me: That's great honey! You can certainly bring her with you to Sedona tomorrow!
SJ: I'm going to because she's never been outside Flagstaff! She had never even been outside Hawaii. Wait until she sees Sedona. Sunday I'm taking her to the Grand Canyon.
Me: She'll have so much fun! Can't wait to meet her.
StevieJo and Deann arrived this morning around 10:30. We chatted for a few minutes,
Me: So how do you like it here?
Deann: Oh, it's incredible! It's like a painting!
Me: Yes it is! Hawaii is just as beautiful.
Deann: Yes, but in different ways.
Me: I would imagine! Someday we'll go there!
Deann: You'd love it. The beaches are amazing.
Me: Are you a freshman this year?
Deann: Yes, I just turned 18 and I've never left Hawaii.
Me: That's what StevieJo said! Are you scared about being here?
Deann: A little. I was really homesick the first few days, but I'm feeling better now...
I looked out the kitchen window and saw them sitting there at the table. They were talking, giggling, and full-on laughing. I smiled.
Then, it hit me.
Wait. What did she just say? I shook my head side to side as if doing so would cause my brain to repeat her words. Must've worked because with great clarity I heard it again: "I just turned 18."
I stood there and watched. Tears filled my eyes. Good, good, good tears. This is what it would look like. I just watched and watched in awe. It was about as strange a feeling as I've had in a very long time. I'm not sure I can put it to words, so I won't try. But... it was magical.
Deann has a deep love for nature. She loves anthropology and animals. She is spiritual and engaging and her smile is illuminating. She loves going barefoot (she said one day she'd try my crazy barefoot hiking with me). She loves hippies. She loves sea turtles (for Z) and owls. She even meditates.
And she loves hiking too. So, StevieJo, Deann, and I went for a hike.
Three girls, six feet, and a smile on my face and happy tears on the edge of dispersal for nearly two hours at the tiny glimpse into my alternate-wished-for-reality (yes, of course, that's me, barefooted).
We walked up to the vortex and sat. Just the three girls in order of age.
I could tell StevieJo was feeling it too. And seeing them together warmed my heart in ways I could never have imagined. I was bathed in immense gratitude for this priceless moment tinged with a dollop of sadness.
But so appreciative.
We came home and played our ritual card game, Spoons, and Deann was wild and fun and loud. She fit right into the place at the table that should have been Chey's. We laughed and laughed and laughed.
I'm uncertain if this is some remuneration for the excruciatingly difficult summer, but this was one of the best days I've had in a very long time.
Thank you... thank you... thank you. Bowing in deep, profound gratitude.
I hope they are friends for a very, very long time.