I met her in tears and she met me with a hug. We started our loop and for every step, another drop hit the ground as we moved forward in silence. Neither of us felt the need to fill the quiet. There wasn’t much to say. After a mile of muted moving, the nights events started gushing out between tears.

I had spent the evening having dinner with family and the pain had been tangible in every moment. We had been sitting on the front porch, watching the sunset when I looked over helplessly to see my aunt’s tear-filled eyes as she recalled a multitude of health problems on either side of the family and the stress of her overwhelming job. There was so much pain in those eyes. So much pressure. She was holding the weight of the world on those shoulders and she didn’t even realize it. And there I was, paralyzed. Unable to help. Unable to take the pain away. So I didn’t try. I just sat and listened. I decided to just be. Be there for her. Be present. Present in the pain. Present in the heartache. Present in hope.

We continued to walk forward in renewed silence.

“What are you thinking about?” I asked. She told me she had been praying.

I realized the other day that life won’t always look like this. We were walking early in the evening and the two of us acknowledged that someday this sacred time when the air is warm and we are free to share stories and giggles and tears won’t be so convenient. Life will get in the way. Priorities will change.

But for now we get to stay in this sweet season. And it is very good. So we walk through life together, quite literally. Late, when the sun has gone down and the neighborhood gets quiet, we start our 7 mile loop. And I walk ahead sometimes to get the cobwebs before she does. And we run up hills when we get to them because she would rather that than walk. And late at night we re-enact The Notebook and lay in the middle of the road to look up at the stars.

I tell her my stories and she tells me hers. We talk about our days and laugh about boys. We share in our struggles. We wrestle with our dreams. Sometimes we don’t talk at all and just keep moving forward…one foot in front of the other, because that’s all we really know how to do. But we keep moving forward nonetheless, even on the extra dark nights, when the moon doesn’t light our way and the streetlights are out. Because at the end of the day, we know we’re in it together and that is comforting.

And I thank God for putting someone by my side who listens. And prays when I forget. Someone who is present. Present in the pain. Present in the heartache. Present in hope.



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