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"Catching up..."

Updated: Sep 22, 2019

I woke up this morning and began my usual, workday routine. I put on the coffee, grabbed a hot shower and stood in front of my closet totally unmotivated to get dressed. I backed away from the closet and sat on the edge of my bed when the aroma coming from the kitchen, of freshly brewed coffee made it’s way to my bedroom and filled my senses. A pleasurable smile came across my face as I closed my eyes and I was immediately transported to a cool, breezy veranda. There I was, relaxing on a white, wooden lounge chair as my hands cradled a hot cup of coffee. The view before my eyes was extraordinary; as the crystal blue, ocean waves broke, touched the shore’s edge and receded back into the ocean. Sitting there on my bed, wrapped in my bath robe and daydreaming the morning away, I couldn't care less about the 7 a.m. meeting waiting for me at work. I wasn’t even dressed yet, let alone contemplating a board meeting.

With my eyes still closed and the ocean view before me, I leaned back on my bed, resting my weight on both of my out stretched arms and I tilted my head up as if to take in a deep breath of the ocean’s intoxicating perfume. My bed had become a white, wooden lounge chair and the aroma of the freshly brewed coffee in the kitchen had taken me to a very happy and peaceful place. As I was enjoying this mental escape from my busy, demanding life, I noticed in my daydream that someone was sitting in another white, wooden lounge chair, beside me. We both had a hot cup of coffee in our hands and seemed to be enjoying ourselves so much, just laughing and talking.

“Who was this sitting next to me," I wondered. Just then, I opened my eyes wide, sat up on the edge of my bed and felt absolutely exhilarated! A sense of purpose came over me and the irresistible desire to play hookie today was set in motion.

“Where is my cell phone?” I announced to no one. I tousled the covers on my bed, remembering that last night I was up late on my phone, surfing the web and fighting worrisome thoughts about the job, family and just ‘life’ issues, when I should have been getting my rest. Hmmm…I haven’t had a good night’s rest in over two years.

“Oh, there you are.” I answered. I climbed onto the middle of my messy bed, sat criss-cross applesauce, like a giggly kid who was up to mischief, and started texting my co-worker.

“Hey, Shawna. Woke up with a wicked headache….calling in sick. Will need to re-schedule meeting for tomorrow.” I texted.

“Oh no! Okay…will see you tomorrow. Feel better,” Shawna text back. So I told a little, white lie…okay a big, white lie. Thing is, I honestly didn’t care. All I knew is that this day that had started out with my usual, mundane routine had taken on a whole new path, a path for which even I had no road map. But somehow I knew that it was long overdue!

I hopped off my bed, phone in hand and strolled into the kitchen. I poured myself a hot cup of coffee, took a sip and as I leaned back against the counter, I glanced down at my phone. An old, college friend of mine had been popping into my thoughts the last two weeks. But with work deadlines, family stuff and last week’s car repair issues, well…you know how it goes.

“Good grief…I think it’s been about seven years since we talked.” I thought to myself as I glared at my phone. “I wonder if she’s still with that guy…I wonder if she’s working?” I continued to asked myself. I scroll down the contacts list on my phone and…

“Oh my gosh…I wonder if this is still a good number!?” I say out loud. With my coffee in one hand and phone in the other, I debated whether or not to hit the call button. I stared down at the phone and began to remember some good and some not so good times I had with my friend. We helped each other through some rough days after college; new loves, broken hearts, being unemployed as new grads, oh and that year we split the rent on that crappy apartment.

“Good times.” I chuckled to myself.

Why do we hesitate to reach out to people we haven’t seen or heard from over the years? What are we so afraid of? Could it be rejection? Or maybe we just don’t want to be ‘bothered’ with what can come from reconnecting with people from our past. It’s sad but I guess it’s true. We tend to make time only for those ‘present’ in our lives. But there was a time in my life when my friend Darlene was my ‘present,’ and lately she’s been on my heart.

“I gotta call her!” I said to myself, shaking my head in disgust with my hesitation.

I dialed. Several rings later…

“Hello?” a familiar voice answered.

“Darlene, it’s me, Jackie?” I responded in more of a question rather than a fact. There was a moment of brief silence.

“Oh my gosh, Jackie?!” she finally answered, breaking the silence. A sense of relief came over me and I let out a boisterous laugh.

“Yes, It’s me, Jackie!” I replied. “So what’s been going on?” I asked her. We must have talked for at least half an hour when I had an awesome idea!

“Hey Darlene, what are you doing today?” I mischievously asked.

“Well, don’t tell anyone," Darlene chuckles, “But I’m taking a mental health day.”

“Really?!," I answer back!

A couple of hours later after we had set up a time and place to meet, it was like those good old, post-college days again, as my dear friend and I reconnected and decided to enjoy this ‘mental health’ day together. We ended up at the beach where we had lunch and then found a spot on the pier, where we sat and gazed out at the gorgeous ocean view before us. Suddenly, I recalled my morning daydream and as I whispered to myself, “Oh my goodness," a smile of confirmation came across my face. I looked over at my friend and knew that the person who was sitting next to me in my daydream was Darlene.

The beach was busy for a weekday but we didn’t care. Everything was perfect! The weather was warm and breezy, no work meetings, no deadlines, no car repair issues, just me and an old friend, swapping ‘Remember when…” stories and laughing hysterically till our sides hurt. We laughed so much, at one point until tears came to Darlene’s eyes. Starring out into the blue horizon, my friend announced,

“I haven’t laughed like this in such a long time, Jackie.”

All of a sudden my heart became heavy as I looked at the profile of my friend’s face and saw her countenance change from giddiness to weariness. She didn’t look at me right away but just fixed her gaze ahead as if she was trying to take in and store as much of this ‘joyous feeling’ as possible, and keep on reserve. Oh, if only we could catch and bottle those moments of pure happiness! With tears in her eyes, she finally looked at me and the smile that came across her face was like the smile of a woman who had just ran and won the biggest race of her life.

“I’ve been in remission for two years now,” she admitted.

My heavy heart sank into my stomach. I starred into my brave friend’s eyes that had become pools of tears and I couldn’t find the words. All of those times over the past two weeks that she popped into my thoughts. Why didn’t I stop whatever I was doing and pick up the freak’n phone and check on my friend? We both just sat there on the pier looking at one another and it was like the dam broke as I grabbed my friend’s hands, held them tight and we both cried enough tears to fill another ocean. We cried, laughed, hugged, and cried some more. My friend…my amazing, courageous, fierce and feisty friend, BEAT CANCER and today we are here on a Divine appointment, one that was long overdue, to celebrate!

People strolling by simply saw two ladies enjoying a day at the beach; laughing, talking, and waving our arms in the air as we added emphasis and exclamation to stories we told one another from our past as well as from our present. They’ll never know of our joys, sorrows, fears, or of the FIGHT endured and won, to be able to live to see another day. Unless they ask, they’ll never know that my friend Darlene is an overcomer! Had I not hit that call button on my phone this morning, I may have never known!

So, to the rest of the world, we are just two friends playing hookie. But it’s so much more than that. There is indeed an extraordinary and unfortunately rare thing taking place here on this pier. A beautiful soul that cried out into this big, noisy, busy world, was finally heard today by another soul who finally stood still long enough, after two weeks, to listen. A plan that was set in motion to bring us both here, to this critical moment in Darlene’s life and mine, has humbled me and restored my loyalty to my friend. What a beautiful day to usher a past friendship back into my present, where she will stay, as we sit together laughing, sharing and just ’catching up.’

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