Their voices drift out to me.
I am poised for knocking but their song beats my hand to the door.
Four kids. My two and two of their best buds.
Hand stutters in mid-air as I pause. Lean back against hall wall.
Voices lift in unison, gathering me in the rhythm.
These four have been friends all of their lives. Their beginnings almost parallel, some of these lilting voices were first heard by the others in utero–as mothers laughed and grew together.
They have only recently abandoned entertaining their parents with puppet shows and hokey commercials. Started sequestering up here in this room.
Away from the grownups.
Here they have written stories and illustrated picture books. They have created an economy of bottle caps and play money.
And tonight, apparently, they have written a song.
Okay, it’s more like a chant…but it’s catchy.
It sweeps me into its embrace.
I listen for the individual quality of each voice and my breath catches.
In this moment I hear their comfort with one another—but more. When I listen closely, I hear each one—can make out the familiar tones—and I hear how their differences collide and make something beautiful.
I am hearing the story of their friendship.
This auditory portrait makes me think of the mother of the other two.
She is downstairs, falling asleep on my couch. She buried her father only yesterday; the culmination of a forty-four day journey.
It was forty-four days from his diagnosis to his death.
And my friend is exhausted.
Exhausted from grief.
Exhausted from watching her father suffer.
Exhausted from saying goodbye.
She needed to be with us tonight. Because she knows we love her. Needed us to hold her up for a little while.
Tonight, I stand here in this hall and give praise for friendship. Against a backdrop of precious harmonies, I give thanks.
Oh, Lord, where would I be without my friends to hold me up?
You give such good things, Father. You give such good things.