Me & Sue
Sue and I have been friends for about thirty years. It’s hard to believe since it seems only yesterday that I went to her door on a gray rainy day and introduced myself. Her sister was a mortgage broker and had done our home loan. She told me I needed to meet Sue, her younger sister, who was a stay-at-home mom and lived only two blocks from our new home. Sue was pregnant, as was I, each with our second child.
It was one of those days where a good time girl looks around her gray environment and fights hard to hold back the tears. I needed a friend in the neighborhood and I was determined to get one. The walls were starting to close in and as much as I loved my baby girl, I needed to have a conversation, one that didn’t involve walking around the house pointing at things. I’m sure my toddler was tired of trying to communicate with me as well. Someone who spoke her language would be nice.
So, I put my baby in the stroller, rain coat on, zipped and snapped, boots, mittens, hat, bottle, diaper changes, graham crackers and toys. I pulled a rain coat on myself, flipped the hood onto my head, and locked the door behind us. Pregnant as I was, I pushed the stroller up the long steep hill and around the corner then down the street to Sue’s front door. I took a deep breath and chose to believe that this woman would be thrilled to have us. Even though she’d never seen us before in her life, she would be thrilled to have us. Even if she was sick and her baby was sick and the house had never been filthier and she was crying, she’d be thrilled to have us. There are times when all you can do is have faith, and this was one of them.
Sue answered the door wearing her husband’s boxer shorts, a big loose t-shirt and white athletic socks. She obviously hadn’t showered or even combed her hair, but she even more obviously, didn’t care. Her smile was so genuine and so welcoming I nearly burst into tears. She invited us in, made room for me on the sofa by shoving a pile of laundry onto the floor, and went into the kitchen to put on a fresh pot of coffee. She set her baby on the carpet with mine while we chatted and drank our coffee, bonding into lifelong sister friends before I even left her house.
I could hardly wait to share this exciting news with my husband when he walked through the door that night. It was so good to have girlfriend in the neighborhood.
Throughout the years, Sue and I had a lot of fun. We taught pre-school together, took care of each other’s kids, stuck together through the good times and the bad, and we both had a third child, girls born about eight months apart. They grew up together, each others best friend, never wanting to be apart. Our little girls were so sweet and adorable that Sue and I dreaded the day we’d be sending them off to kindergarten.
Yet, before we knew it that terrible day arrived and off to kindergarten our babies went. On that particular day, Sue and I were feeling at an all time low. Our darling girls were in school and we could hardly stand it. They were far too sweet and innocent to be thrown in with all the bullies and bad influences the other children certainly were.
As we left them in the class room holding hands, both in sweet dresses, both with curly hair springing out all over their heads, we lost it. Together we groaned and wiped away our tears.
“I can’t stand it. I don’t think I can do this,” Sue confessed.
“Me neither,” I agreed. “But they’ll be all right – won’t they? They’ll be fine.”
We looked at each other through blurry vision and sniffed. “I think we should go back and check on them.”
“We can’t, Sue. Miss Yample said it’s best to just go.”
“But, I can’t go without making sure they’re all right.”
“Well, what are we going to do? Go peek in the windows?”
Sue and I snuck around the back of the building to approach the classroom window on hands and knees. Together, fingers barely gripping the edge of the window pane, we poked our heads up just enough to peek in. Duck! Our heads retreated into our shoulders like a couple of turtles as Miss Yample strolled by while addressing the children. Sue lifted her head again for another peek.
“They’re all in a circle on the floor,” Sue whispered and squatted down to my level. “I didn’t get a real good look at the girls, but I don’t think either one of them is crying.”
Together, we raised ourselves up just enough to take a glimpse around the classroom. There they were, sitting on the circle rug, still holding hands, but smiling. Sue and I turned to each other and sighed. They really were going to be okay. Ducking down again, we crawled out from behind the building hoping no one would see us. We brushed the dirt from our knees, walked to our cars, and reluctantly drove home.
It was a tall order for the two of us, yet Sue and I held our heads up high, blew our noses, and bravely marched our baby girls out the door five days a week for the next nine months. And we did it without ever again sneaking around the building and peeking in the windows.