I have a friend

I was about to entitle this “I had a friend” and then I remembered, that was exactly the point… I HAVE a friend…. but I’ll explain.

A hundred years ago when I was a young mother with four little children- ages 1, 2, 4, and 5.5 I taught Lamaze classes on the Army post where my husband was stationed. It happened by accident. After the birth of our first child by the standard “grin-it-and-bear-it until the saddleblock” method, I realized that I probably could have avoided the saddleblock injection that relieved me of about 5 minutes of pain and left me lying flat for 6 hours to avoid an unbearable headache. So with the next pregnancy, I read a lot of books and went to Lamaze classes and learned coping mechanisms to help me through my next labor. And the next three labors were a lot easier.

We moved from Pittsburgh, where our two youngest (at the time) children were born to the Army post where there were a lot of young families, many of whom were having their first and second and third children. Among these people was a couple who wanted to learn Lamaze and knowing I had taken the course and had had my babies using Lamaze techniques, called me to ask me if I would teach them. I responded that although I had read literally every book there was on childbirth, I had no formal medical background and so didn’t feel comfortable teaching. The husband responded that he was a physician and he would be available for the medical information, and so I consented and taught them. Within a month, two more doctors and their wives came for classes and then yet another and soon the word got around. In a short time I was giving course after course to couples on the post.

And then one day, someone told me that in the nearby town there was a husband and wife who were also giving Lamaze classes. I didn’t know about them until then and my first thought was that they would feel as if I had encroached on their territory. Of course, I was not working for money. Until that point, I taught because I enjoyed it and the couples continued coming. The idea of charging never occured to me. So that probably made it even worse because I was giving away for free what I assumed they were charging for.

But still, I decided to get in touch with them in the hopes that we could find common ground and maybe even help each other.

I dialed the number with trepidation, but after the initial introduction was greeted in the warmest, friendliest manner. Marcia and I must have talked for an hour or more that first time. Within a day or two I went to her house to meet her in person.

Between us developed a friendship like no other. I can describe her with these words: gracious, caring, giving, unselfish, kind, loving. Marcia has always been a truly generous person— and I am not talking about material generosity. I am talking about the ability to be present freely and wholeheartedly in another’s life. She has patience, and grace. Around her, I always knew that everything would be all right.

We left that Army post in 1976. I remember that the parting was painful. I can’t trace our friendship through the years other than a brief encounter on our way to Oklahoma in 1984. But the wonders of email have connected us once again and we once again are sharing our lives.

Yesterday, I wrote her “Whenever I hear from you it reminds me of how much I miss you after all these years. You were a really good friend.” She responded, “What’s this about “WERE”??”

You are, as always, right, Marcia. You ARE a really good friend, a blessing.

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