Last week, a dear friend (of twelve years!) drove up with her boy to have a play date. Long stretches of highway, a city, and a bridge lie between us, so we don’t see each other often enough.
She and I sit on a park bench and chat while our boys tear up the tan bark. I catch her up on my life, the little and big things of living in Sugartown. I realize I haven’t filled her in on the gene mutation discovery, the “ah-ha-that’s-why-I-got-the-O.C.” story. I’m so used to explaining this now that I forget how the downside of this news sounds as is comes out of my mouth. The look on her face reminds me. I race to the upside and press myself against it with all my might. I push it in her direction like a football player against a training sled. I rattle off my list of known ten-year-plus survivors. She smiles and agrees to see the positive, and only that. I knew she would.
I turn away to look for the boys. Little J is standing on top of a rock and calling for some other kids to climb up.
My friend reaches over and lightly touches my hand. I don’t turn to look at her because I can hear her sniffle. I give her a moment to get settled in the upside again. And then we get up to push the boys on the tire swing.
They’re flying like crazy on that thing: around and through the upside, the downside and back again. Little whirling dervishes, they watch each other, their faces puffy and red with laughter, flinging their joy all over us as they go.
My friend throws her arm around me, and now we’re smiling and laughing, too.