Have you ever had one of those weeks that start out on an astonishingly amazing note and then someone smites you with the “you do not deserve to be happy” stick? You never really see it coming. And holy man, it stings like a mother.
Meet: my week.
I had a most lovely Monday followed by a rather steady and miserable decline after getting smacked by such a stick. On Thursday while out at a dinner, I noticed several missed phone calls from a close friend of mine, followed by a text message, “Where are you? Emergency.” A quick call revealed that the monsoon rains we were having had decided to drain not off the roof but instead into my apartment building, all the way down to the basement and pour – yes, pour – directly into my storage locker. My storage locker. By the time I got home, they had broken off the lock and hauled everything out. About half my stuff was dry, but the rest, not so much. I was afraid to look at what had been damaged. A couple pieces of paper sticking out gave me a tiny hint, as well as a big sinking, sick feeling in my gut. All I could really do was look at the mess and walk away. Go back, look, walk away. I did this about twenty times. Then I had a glass of hooch with my friend (incidentally also my landlady) and called it a night.
The next day was jammed, so I didn’t have a chance to really get to it until late afternoon. And sure enough, that mofo stick whacked me again, on the backswing. The box with the most water damage contained priceless valuables that cannot be replaced by any amount of my non-existent insurance money: my son’s homework from grade school. (When I moved to Vancouver five years ago, there was only so much room in the tiny U-Haul, and I had to be very selective of what to bring with me. I sorted through 15 years of kid stuff, and chose enough pieces to fit into one box.) I love both my children equally and fiercely, yet differently. My daughter is my best friend; my son is my Achilles heel. Seeing his work all stuck together, coloured ink from construction paper leaching through everything was probably – ok, I’m going to be a little dramatic here – the worst thing that’s happened in years. I laid things out to dry the best I could, then did what any loving yet distraught mom would do: I marched out and bought a bottle of wine and a pack of smokes, and hunkered down to a pity party of one. (Hey, no judgey, even the most put-together folks have their moments of feeling a little unhinged.)
Early Saturday morning, armed with a strong cup o’ joe, I began to sift through the papers. And I found the following piece that the boy-child had done when he was nine. It was called: A How To Manual For Friendship.
A How To Manual For Friendship
Purpose: To get a friendship
To make a friendship you need to be nice and not lie.
- Help each other and keep in touch.
- Learn that you can make mistakes and do something by accident.
- Give them a present or invite them to your house or birthday party.
- Give them your phone number.
- Never hurt them on purpose.
- Don’t put them down or call them names.
- Don’t bribe them to be your friend or anything else.
If you do this then it will help. If it doesn’t work then put it back in the machine*.
Such a smart kid.
I wish I could say in that moment that the rain suddenly stopped, the clouds cleared and the sun came streaming through the windows. Yeah, no. This is Vancouver. But the tears did stop, and the shadow in my head did clear and joy did come streaming through my heart.
This is a beautiful and timely reminder of the value of friendship, and that a successful friendship at any age needs to be cultivated with respect, authenticity and gratitude. And presents. But no bribe presents.
So thank you dear rain, for washing away the debris and unearthing my son’s beautiful work. And if you know someone who could use pointers on being a good friend, tell them to – as we used to say back in the corporate IT days – RTFM**.