A Gift from a Friend

This post is difficult for me to write because it touches on the story of a beautiful soul and a very elegant friend of mine who is full of grace and compassion towards her fellow human. However, her story is not a straight path through gentle rolling fields. Her life has seen both joy and sorrow in abundance. Though i admire her greatly for her faith and endurance, her story is not mine to tell. My sweet friend and her husband are the reason i am homesteading. They needed a regular house sitter that could care for the plants, the wildlife, and the cat for a few days at a moment’s notice. My friend and her husband had a large piece of land with a big garden, fruit trees, and a pond full of fish. They had an abundance of bambis that visited daily and a very particular cat. Out each window was trees. You could not see the street. You could not hear a car. All you could see was grass, bambis, and trees. Every time i house-sat i took sili, my knitting, and some local vegetables to cook. I loved every minute of it. That place was so peaceful and quiet. When the sun set there were no street lights. When the sun set, that was it. It was dark, and i mean pitch dark. Whatever you’d been doing, you were done. There were hummingbirds and cardinals everywhere. It didn’t matter how horrible the day had been in town. Once i got in the car and drove two towns over to get to their property; once i pulled down their long drive and parked in front of the house surrounded by bambis, birds, and trees; nothing could ruin that peace. Nothing from the outside world could reach me. My soul was at peace. My heart was experiencing joy, for the first time in a very long time. I hadn’t known existing could feel fulfilling. It took work to run their place and every day after work i set to it. When the sun finally set and i had done everything i needed to do i collapsed on their couch, exhausted but feeling accomplished. I took a brief rest and then got back up to cook from scratch in their beautiful kitchen with the window looking out upon the wildlife. There was no curtain but it didn’t matter because there were no other people, just animals. In the spare room where i stayed was a wall full of canning jars. They had dates and titles on them. It was like a chronicle of fruit from the trees and veggies from the garden each year. Their land and the life they’d built upon it was beautiful. Their trees were established and producing fruit. Their pond had big fish in it. Their birds knew where the feeders were and their bambis had become used to their presence. It wasn’t until they would return to the house and i would have to go back to my apartment that i would realize how healthy my soul felt in the wilderness and how sick i felt when i was away from it. I also realized how much i enjoyed the solitude. Being away from humans for a while was like recharging AA batteries for me. I lived in anticipation of the next time they required a house sitter. One day i was standing in the kitchen making dinner in my one-bedroom apartment. I was trying to calculate the age at which i would have enough money saved to pay for 1 surrogacy attempt. If i was able to continue saving at the rate i was, i would have enough money to fund a surrogacy at age 50. I thought about how tired i was in that moment and realized how tired i’d be in twenty years; when my body could no longer run on 2 hours of sleep and a quarter jar of instant coffee, when i’d pulled a few more muscles, torn a few more tendons, and dislocated a hip or knee one or two more times. I didn’t want to be in a pool or running around a playground after someone at 50 or 60 years of age. I wanted to be slowing down. I knew in that moment that i could not continue to ear-mark that money for the purpose of eventual motherhood. It was a dream i’d have to let go of, as so many had done before me. It was something i’d been sorrowful and anxiety-filled about for so long. I’d been running away from the inevitability of closing the door on that for so long, when i finally said it out loud it landed with an unexpected peace and acceptance on my heart. I was talking to a friend on the phone that night and she said that if she had the nest egg i’d saved she would buy a house. I thought to myself, “A house is unimportant to me. What would i want with a house? An apartment is a dwelling with walls and a roof just the same as a house, just cheaper.” The aspect of owning walls rather than renting them did not interest me. However, land….land i would be interested in owning. Suddenly an idea was born in me. The bambis…i could have my own bambis, my own birds, and my own trees. I would make a safe space for the wildlife on my little piece of land, and nobody would hunt, trap, or domesticate anything as long as it roamed through my little slice of wilderness. I set out trying to find the right piece of wilderness for Sili and I from that moment forward. Months later i would be visiting my sweet friend who owned the land with all the bambis on it. She would say to me, “Do you want some chives? I have a chive plant over here. You can take it with you.” I felt guilty. I had spent the night talking about what had gone wrong in my life when my friend had endured ten-fold whatever i was whining about and with no complaint or anger in her voice. She listened to me in my time of weakness though i should have extended a shoulder to her and said, “lean here and rest for a while.” I was not a good friend to her in that moment. I didn’t put her struggles above my own and instead of saying, “how dare you lay your troubles on my table. Can’t you see i’m walking through something difficult?” She met me with kindness undeserved, a listening ear, and a chives plant; my favorite herb in a pot that happened to be my favorite color. She gifted the plant to me for the property. I was afraid to cut a piece from it for the first few months i owned it, as i knew i hadn’t deserved it. However, over time i made peace with the plant and began including the chives in my cooking. I think of my friend every time i cut a strand for a recipe and i hope in the depths of my heart that she knows how sorry i am that i was not there for her when i should have been and how deeply i admire and respect her for her ability to follow the example of gentleness, compassion, and humility Christ gave to us.

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