Last night, just before bed, I had an email from an old childhood friend. It had one word in the subject line and no text at all; just a photo. It was my friend with her hand over her mouth, caught between laughing and crying as her boyfriend, in a suit coat and dress pants, was down on one knee with a ring box in his hand.
"Engaged" was the subject line.
And I got a couple little happy tears in my eyes.
Once upon a time, in a little town far, far away... there were two teenage girls that met the summer after eighth grade and became fast friends. When the new school year started they shared a locker, were lucky enough to get the same gym class slot, and cemented a friendship that has lasted through 30 years.
I'm not sure we've seen each other more than two or three times in the past 25 years; as relocations have taken us all over the country and we are usually about 1100 miles away from each other at any given time. But the friendship was still there. Even if we were both so incredibly busy with our jobs, marriages, raising teenagers and had absolutely insane schedules, there was a Christmas card in the mail and an email every now and then....
But then, a couple years ago, she suddenly went silent.
During a solo cross-country trip the summer before last, I was back in my little hometown, where I knew my friend and her husband had relocated to a few years earlier.
I knew their address, so I decided to pop in and surprise them.
As I parked in the driveway I was confused for a second as I saw a toddler's playset in the back yard. All their kids were 17-23 years old. Too old for kids toys, my friend was a critical care nurse and didn't do daycare in her home. They didn't have any grandkids (that I knew of) but I went to the door anyway.
Just as I was leaving a young man came to the door that I didn't recognize.
I explained I was from out of town and looking for my friends - did they still live here?
This man had moved in about 3 months earlier.
I asked if he knew if my friends still lived in town? (It's a TINY TOWN so yes, he would know.) Did the husband still work at XYZ and the wife still work at ABC?
He had a very strange look on his face. He said yes, he believed the husband still worked at XYZ. He didn't know about the wife... and he just kind of trailed off.
But ok! I thanked him and left.
That evening I was to meet up with an old friend from high school who still lives in the area that I hadn't seen in more years than I even remembered.
About an hour into the "whatever happened to...." discussion, I mentioned I had stopped by our old friends house but apparently they don't live there anymore.
Her eyes got big.
Her mouth opened wide, closed and she smiled.
"You didn't hear about that!?"
Because I don't have a Facebook account, I miss out on all the gossip of friends and family. I like it that way actually. So apparently I missed out on a real soap opera played out in public in a small town.
The storyline was pretty typical of married man and married woman flirt, cross some lines and then make it a long term line-crossing relationship. Both had spouses and kids. One was in a very trusted, public career. Crazy enough, a lot of people seemed to know about it. You can't hide anything for long in a small town.
But although all these people knew about it... no one told his wife.
And when she finally found out about it, it almost killed her. She had NO idea.
And when the hurt and shock turned to anger she took to Facebook. She ripped that little town and their secrets to shreds, she called out those who chose to cover it up rather than let her know what was going on. She blasted with both guns and took no prisoners. Laid it all out there.
And then... went silent.
The fallout was separation, moving out, fighting, relocation, divorce... it was ugly and messy.
She cut off everyone and everything from that little town. Immersed herself in a new job, new location.
Her silence was her healing.
And during that healing time she started chatting with an old friend on Facebook. Someone from our 8th and 9th grade high school days when we were the bestest of friends.
As a matter of fact, it was guy and not just a guy, but a guy she dated back then, the summer after 8th grade.
And I was with her the day he asked her to go out with him and she didn't walk on the ground the rest of the day. She floated. The blissful smile on her face, her feet never touched the ground.
They dated for awhile, but we were young, teens and... life.
So soon they broke up and she dated a couple other people and then she dated the guy she would go on to marry, and divorce.
And before long the chatting with an old friend on Facebook, turned to friendship. Friendship turned to dating.
And time heals wounds.
She was healed. Her heart and soul had gotten through the grief and she was gloriously happy for the first time in almost three years.
We've been in touch again over the past 2 years and it's been great to have that dear friend back. We've not seen each other yet as we are again, 1100 miles away from each other and her job, kids, life is there. Mine is just as busy here. But old childhood friends are gold. If she actually needed anything or asked me to, I'd drop everything in a heartbeat to get to her.
And last night, when I saw my friend laughing, caught in the moment of the proposal, my heart puffed up, happy tears came to my eyes.
That boy that asked her out the summer before ninth grade and made her float 10 feet off the ground with happiness... was again making her laugh, float with happiness, and asking her to be his wife, 30+ years later.
It finds a way.
Mars and Venus Starting Over: A Practical Guide for Finding Love Again After a Painful Breakup, Divorce, or the Loss of a Loved One