“Hi mom.” They say as they make their way towards us in a line.
They are all elbows and knees and the sweetest of pajamas and the sleepiest of hair.
With half mooned eyes, they step over pizza boxes and suitcases, coolers and endless pairs of flip flops.
Kayli leans her tall frame into mine; I breathe in her warmth.
Beside us, her friends perform this age old morning ritual with their own mothers. Arms wrap around waists, heads rest upon chests, lips brush against foreheads.
We’re away for the weekend as mothers and daughters and two generations of heart keeper friends.
Several years ago we introduced ourselves to each other in the hopes of forming friendships for our newly minted school age girls.
We shook hands and raised cheeks and crossed fingers that these friendships would stick, sweetening and softening and lighting up these school years.
And they do, for all of us.
Because as we placed them side by side in activities and classes and play dates and sleepovers, we took the time to see that same kind of light in each other.
Several weeks ago, I took this same kind of a chance on a new friend.
“Let’s get together!” I wrote to the lovely Nina Badzin, whom I only knew from her straight forward, quick witted, and ridiculously astute writing.
And she, took a chance on me.
We met and hugged and talked nonstop, our words tumbling over our thoughts.
We introduced our husbands and our children, carving out the time in our day and the space in our hearts for a new friendship.
I sit by Kayli on our driveway, the sun beating down our backs, our bags by our sides – a physical splay of the fun that we had away, and the work that it’ll take to come back.
“What was your favorite part?” I ask, wondering if it was skipping rocks or the big ships or painting nails or the tongue-color-changing cherry slurpees, but hedging my bets on the late night at the water park.
She runs her painted fingertips against the rough, warm ground, shades her eyes, stretches her legs, crosses her bare feet at the ankle. We mirror each other.
“Just being together.” She finally says.
“Me, too.” I say back, not hiding my smile.
And if there’s one shiny gem that I can gently wrap and place in her heart to hold onto about friendship, as she grows and changes and finds her own way, it’s just this.
Be grateful for time together, and be open to new friends, always.