One gorgeous sun-drenched day you’re floating on your back, satiated by the cool water on your body. Two short minutes later, your life is pitched over a cliff, and you’re slogging through a shitty river with aching bones and bloodied feet.
As soul-sisters, we can’t step inside each other’s shoes. But you can bet your aching ass, we’re walking beside you on the riverbank, pulling the trigger on the flare gun to light up a piece of the sky, guiding you home. Maybe we can’t hold hands while you slip and slide over jagged stones, dragging your deflated self through the muck, but feel our spirit, sister. We’re your crutch when you’re sure you’ll be sucked under and drown in the depths of your grief. We’re the brace for your cracked heart. We’re the voice in your head, whispering, “I know how strong you are. I know you can make this journey. You have what it takes to go the distance. “
It’s inky black, where cold settles into the marrow of your bones. It’s that space where even our nightmares don’t dare go. Though you can’t see the light slicing through the clouds, we can, and know you only have a ¼ mile left to go. When you climb out of the river, we’ll be there waiting for you. We’ll have a towel, a glass of ice tea, a blanket laid out for you on a lush patch of green grass where you can rest your weary body, re-acquaint yourself with the sun, and feel its warmth on your bruised skin.
Soul sister, reach your frightened self out to us. Give us a chance to be your flare gun, your crutch, a brace for your cracked heart. Yes, we’re BUSY. We are all BUSY, but hear this: Soul-sisters are NEVER too busy to be there for each other. You’re not weak. You’re not a burden. When you allow us to walk along the riverbank, you’re offering us a gift to be of purpose. We love you. We want to be there for you. Please ask us, and we promise, we’ll ask you. We’ll help you to see the hope that awaits you at the other end of the river.
I write this post, understanding that we teach what we must learn. I’ve been a therapist a long time and assigned myself to the role of listening to my soul sisters. And here’s what I’ve learned, it’s safer, too. The truth is, to knock on a door or pick up the phone and admit to feeling scared or lost or weak takes the courage to be vulnerable. This is the foundation of a two-way friendship. This is the foundation for soul growth. It’s the dance between Giving and Receiving, Openly and Willingly (G.R.O.W.) that cracks open the portal for growth.
Two tragedies back to back slung me over that cliff and into that river. A month before my mother’s stroke, my Golden Retriever, Luke, chased a squirrel into the road. I heard the tires screech, heard the thump. Slow motion. The woman walked down our walkway. No Luke chasing after her as he normally would. A knock on the door. “Do you have a Golden Retriever?”
The tires screeched. The thump. The sounds snapped together in those suspended seconds of time. My husband and I stumbled over our feet, through the back door. Luke lay lifeless in the ditch across the street. My husband collapsed on hands and knees, ran his hand along Luke’s broken spine, and lifted his head as our companion slipped away from us.
I felt the crack of my own heart, and was sure, that I’d never felt anything so painful. I waded through the river in the dark, hands flailing, searching for anything to hold on to. I needed a crutch. I needed a soul sister. I called one of my best friends and told her that Luke died. She didn’t ask me, “What do you need me to do?” She drove to my house, wrapped me and my grief up in her arms and said, “We are going to get you another dog.” In that moment, she became a flare, a crutch, a brace for my heart and held hope for me.
Luke died on November 3rd, 2006, and Indy came home with us three days later, thanks to my soul sister.
How could she have known that puppy would keep me afloat in the river, when I was hurled into darker nights and deeper waters when my mother had a stroke one month later? My soul sisters would be there for me and my puppy, Indy. While my mother fought for her life, Indy drove back and forth to the hospital and the rehab center with me for weeks. After being by my mother’s side, wailing inside myself, I’d come back to the car, nuzzle my face into Indy’s neck, reminding me that hope lives all around us in the most dire of circumstances. When I let my soul sisters walk beside me on the riverbank, they offered up a brace for my cracked heart.
When have you let your soul sister in? If you haven’t, reach out to her. She’ll gladly offer a flare, a crutch, a brace for your heart. “Sister,” she’ll say, “you only have a ¼ mile to go.”