I don’t know many people yet in our new town. A steady, nurturing stream of friends from home has wound its way to me, so I should not feel lonely. Our girls and their families live here; I see our grandkids almost every day. That feels so amazingly, incredibly good. Sometimes, I catch myself in the midst of laying yet another mile of Brio train track, or the 100th reading of The New Baby Calf, or remembering which voice to use for the packrat puppet…I catch myself thinking, “We’re here. We did it. This is real.” 

An old friend from another life lives here, too. We have made an easy comfortable re-connection. She is wise and talented and funny and I feel beyond lucky to have her living, like our children, just down the street. 

I watch Lincoln’s face, and the faces of the other residents in his cottage when our grandchildren visit and they visit often. I can’t find words for the effect a toddler’s laughter has on a group of frail elders, lost in dementia. It is transformative.

It is transformative and unexpected, the huge, quiet, soul-permeating joy of simply being here. 

Not too long ago I wrote that missing old friends felt like an amputation. Even as I typed the words, I shook my head at my tendency toward the dramatic. Oh my, but that is a finely-honed personality trait and one that I have unsuccessfully tried to contain, since forever, it feels like. 

Logic tells me that in three months, you don’t make the kind of deep friendships that are forged and polished over decades. Experience tells me that the measure of my sadness is the measure of the love shared with the truly good people who are, in fact, not so far away. And perhaps it is wisdom that tells me that this joy and this sorrow are not mutually exclusive. I can grieve for my own sorrows and those that are so much larger in the wider world and I can be grateful for the enormous privilege and the profound blessings of my life. I can laugh and cry, feel bereft and fulfilled, in the same moment, for the same reason. 

Perhaps you already knew that. I didn’t. It surprises me, still.