We’ve known each other for over 10 years. We met on a silent retreat we both attended for very different reasons. Neither one of us went there to find a life-long friend but the fact that we did is truly a gift from G-d.
He landed at John Wayne Airport last night and I was waiting to pick him up and take him to San Bernardino County. By this afternoon he’ll be headed to points East and by the end of the week he’ll return to Chicago where he makes his home. We had just a few hours to spend together so we did what we usually do; had dinner, laughed, talked, laughed some more, hugged, and said goodbye until next time. On the drive back to Orange County I thought about him and our friendship over the years.
What’s amazing to me is that we met at all. A silent retreat is just that – silent. No talking (except during Mass and the hour we met with our Spiritual Advisor), no catching one another’s gaze, no communication with the “outside world.” Never being one who follows all the rules, all it took was a nudge from my new friend to begin clandestine walks to the yogurt shop in town and secret meetings on a bench overlooking the northern half of the Bay Area. During those “top-secret” meetings we talked about our families, G-d, and our lives in general and we discovered that we shared more in common than just the fact that we decided to attend a silent retreat. But most importantly, we laughed. Laughed until we couldn’t breath. Laughed until we got the hiccups. Laughed so hard our bodies shook when we tried to pretend we weren’t laughing. There, in this silent, sacred environment, we both experienced G-d through one another and through our laughter.
I went to spend Thanksgiving with him the following November and he came to see me in sunny California the summer after that. We spoke on the phone and sent one another cards and letters. We were there for one another during the most significant, painful times in our lives. We fought once or twice but ended up closer each time we reconciled. We both met our partners at relatively the same time and shared the details of our dates like excited high school students. He and his partner came to my wedding and Scully’s Mom and I went to Chicago where they showed us the sights. And in the midst of it all, we continued to laugh.
Despite everything that’s changed in my life and all the things that have changed in his, we’ve remained friends. Despite the fact that we live a 4 hour plane ride apart, we’ve managed to see one another as often as possible and despite the unfortunate events that have occurred in our lives over the past couple of years or so we’ve managed to continue laughing every time we talk. Laughing with him is truly joyful because it’s never a courteous or nervous laugh but a genuine, whole-hearted, belly laugh. He’s one of the few people in my life that can make me laugh by just looking at me and for that and so many other reasons, I truly love him.
Here’s to you my dear friend from the Windy City and here’s to hearing your laughter on the other end of the line. I love you very much and when I think of you and the things we’ve done during our 10 + years of friendship, I hope you know that I usually smile, but I always laugh.