“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.” – Out of Solitude, Henri Nouwen
Jen opened her front door and held out her hands, reaching for the baby in mine. No words exchanged, but a friend who anticipated my needs before I could articulate them, ready to give my arms a break from holding my squirming baby girl. I’d held this six-month-old all day in the hospital, trying to keep her from touching anything that might be germ infested (which meant everything!). Still nursing, I kept Genevieve with me for hours of hospital waiting rooms, cafeterias and walking long linoleum lined halls. Besides it made the patient of honor, my mother-in-law, happy to have a grandchild around. Especially one not old enough to realize the tubes in Oma’s nose meant she was very sick.
I gladly passed my youngest daughter over and stepped into my friend’s house. I braced myself, ready to dig deep for any ounce of energy left somewhere in the caverns to greet my “big girl” who had been unusually separated from me for the day. There had been a lot of long hospital days in the last few weeks, and we were all out of sorts.
Noticing my looks around the room, “She’s just getting out of the bath,” Jen said. “Are you hungry?”
I was, but I didn’t want to put my friends out any more than I already had. They’d watched my three-year-old for ten hours. I knew how exhausting that was, I was quite familiar with that particular three-year-old’s behavior. And I wasn’t sure how to accept generosity paid through hours of childcare.
Jen left for the bathroom carrying the baby and seconds later her husband Dennis appeared through the same door, the bath time supervision handoff complete.
I followed him into the kitchen too drained to muster the energy to even say “Hi.” I sat down at their kitchen table and watched him spoon steaming food from pots on the stove onto a plate. Turning toward me, he placed the plate of warm love in front of me on the table and sat down across from me.
There were few words. Even fewer on his end than mine. I talked some about tests and potential diagnosis and what the next few weeks would look like. He listened. Asked a question and then listened more.
Jen reappeared with two girls in jammies. She saw me looking at the baby’s wet hair.
“She smelled like she could have used a bath too.” It had been a long week, and baths had fallen far down the priority list. There was no judgment in her tone. Just reassurance she had taken care of it. Of us.
It was a night when love was screamed through warm food and bath time. It wasn’t a “we’re going to fix this” kind of effort. It was a “we’re in this with you” kind of love.
Because sometimes friendship is loudest when few words are spoken.
As a mom to four girls, ages 3 to 12, Alexandra Kuykendall’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. She writes to capture the places where motherhood meets everyday life to remember the small, yet significant moments in the midst of the blur. She is the author of The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir , a contributor to this year’s Be you, Bravely, An Experiment in Courage and acts as the Specialty Content Editor for MOPS International. A city girl at heart, she makes her home in the shadow of downtown Denver. You can read more of Alex’s everyday thoughts and connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.