Love Note for a Friend
Grace was middle aged and her name didn't suit her.
She was dumpy and brown, both plain looking and severe, with a profile that would have looked more at home on an ancient roman coin than in the modern day world. She looked strong and was very self sufficient; she'd had to be, but had managed, against all odds, to find a man she cared for and could love. Together they raised children and were content with each other, though there were times that Grace wished for more. She didn't know what she was looking for, but there was something missing from her life.
When Grace was nearing 40 she met with a group of ladies who all shared a common obsession. Though they were drawn together by this passion, the relationships between them were what Grace had hungered for. They had met on the computer and she quickly became obsessed with it – spending all her time on line in this chat room and that board – mostly with other women because, quite frankly, there were few men there that were either old enough or together enough to interest her and, well, she was married.
She loved her little group and traveled across the country and world to meet with them. She got into long discussions over coffee, all night gab sessions and celebrations that made her wish, with all her heart, that she could stay with this circle of women forever. But, eventually each visit weekend would pass and one by one the ladies would return to their homes, and though they were no longer anonymous faces behind the computer screen, they were still spread far and wide across the world.
Grace loved nearly all the ladies she met this way, but there were some she felt closer to than others. One such was a dear lady named Helen.
Helen had had a recent trauma in her life. The two of them had conversed long and intimately about it over email, Grace comforting and Helen revealing details of her life that she might not told anyone else. Grace was touched very deeply and, though she had no way of knowing for certain how Helen felt, wondered at the bond she felt that seemed far too strong for someone she had never really 'met'.
On the day before they were to meet for the first time, Grace had a dream. In it, she met Helen and they fell together thick as thieves. Though she had never seen her, Grace somehow knew her friend would be beautiful and gentle and saw in her minds eye a round, friendly face with a scattering of freckles over the nose. In the dream her friend reached up to her and Grace embraced her, falling into her lap and snuggling against her breast.
In that dream moment, Grace found a joy within herself that fairly burst her asunder. Her dream self wept and held onto the image of Helen – warm, alive and loving in her arms. She was astonished and overwhelmed and smitten to the heart.
But it was only a dream.
The next day she met with Helen and the woman was every thing she had imagined. She was the kind of person anyone would love deeply. She had a kind heart, a beautiful face and a loving, sharing soul. She was also a fighter, brave, true and faithful, and one who might have made a commander of armies had she been born in another age, for many would follow her out of love.
But while Grace, with the dream still spinning in her head, had eyes only for Helen, Helen was meeting many people that day and though kind and gracious to Grace, she was equally so to the rest as well.
And so Grace kept the dream to herself.
On the day Helen went home, Grace drove from the bus station in silence, tears of agony streaming down her face. Though many friends had left that day, her tears were for one parting alone. And yet Helen did not know. Would, perhaps, never know the impact she had made. But Grace still yearned.
The next time they met, was more than a year later. Grace was visiting Helen and the occasion was joyous indeed. Again there were many at the meeting and again many hours were spent in long talk with old friends newly met. Helen was just as kind and gracious as ever, but there had been a long time and distance between them and Grace had hoped that time had cooled the strange need she had had for this friend.
It had not.
Helen said nothing but did one thing that Grace found strange. Exciting and strange, but still strange.
She shared her bed with Grace.
To sleep, of course. There were many staying in Helen's home and Helen had a large room and bed; there was room. Grace was flattered, a bit embarrassed and touched. But even more afraid. Was this an overture or a practicality? She treasured the opportunity but it was like the most fragile of dreams and she was afraid of reaching out to touch something that might burst and wither before her eyes if she did.
And so she kept silent and thought of the dear face and sweet lady that lay beside her in the dark. She wanted to reach out, but more she wanted to do nothing to endanger the trust she had been shown, for it was a more precious gift than anything she had ever been given.
At last, they parted again. And Grace, who loved all those she had met truly and deeply, wept more bitterly over her parting from Helen than she had for any other there. Her heart was wrung and her despair bitter as she wondered if she had been too afraid to take what had been well and truly offered, or if she had simply been misreading friendship and kindness in a near stranger's face.
And so Grace continues, silent and loving but afraid to reach out. She has loved in vain before, and will do so again. Even if Helen intended more than friendship, there is little enough that could be done. They live in different worlds and neither is free of commitments and family. So she waits. And remembers a dream in which she was held in a strangers arms and knew love.
Thank you for letting me share that.