Wedding photosI received an email from my friend R, whom I last saw some months ago, with photos and a description of her son’s wedding. Her email made me smile, as she carped about the ceremony, the venue, the city and the weather (not, I hasten to add, about the protagonists). This friend of mine has as warm a heart and as brave a soul as I’ve ever encountered, but she’s such a control freak! I love her with the fierce love reserved for those we love no less because they often drive us crazy.
R is a great talker. During the years we worked together, I sometimes felt I didn’t really want to know quite so much about her life and times and those of all her acquaintance. In connection with our work, we discussed often and exhaustively women’s equality and oppression, childcare, childbirth, childlessness, abortion and contraception. And in all that time, in all that talk, she never told me she had given birth, given up her son for adoption. I don’t think I’ve ever been more shocked than I was the day, four or five years ago, when she said , “well, maybe I will have another drink”, and took a deep breath…
They had made contact then, but had not met. He was in his thirties, happy with his adoptive family, reluctant to disrupt things. Eventually, though, they did meet – and became good friends. I don’t live in the same country as either of them, and have not seen them together. But I have the impression it works because they’ve been able - an astonishing tribute to both of them - to relate in the present. Not: this is a duty to the past (though the past must be with her always), but, on both sides: this is me now - have we a meeting-place?
R was the first person to phone and ask if I was ok on the day of the bombs. She’s the one who, if you’re late, presumes you’re dead; if you’re ill, presumes it’s terminal. I think it’s because her father died before she was born and her mother when she was a child – she’s always known the worst can happen, and to her. But the best also happened, this happy reunion, freeing her heart of the unhappy secret it carried for 35 years. Last week her son P, brought up in the US, got married to a French woman in the German city where they both now live. R, a native German speaker who is fluent in English and French, served as interpreter for and between the French and American families. She, who was the beginning, was the bridge. Dreams do come true.
¶ 5:51 pm