As We Always Do
FEBRUARy 15, 2020
I sat with my sister, as we always do. We lay on the couch in our usual positions, got hot water out of the same machine on the counter, sat on the porch for late night rituals, doused familiar cooked veggies in tahini, packed up for the well-traveled journey north to family and back home again, and made exquisite everyday memories with her two light-of-our-lives sons, as we always do. She prepared my bed with fresh linens, sent the boys into my room to wake me up, cleaned the dishes she won’t let me do, and translated conversations and television and culture and dynamics, as we always do.
My sister made me feel almost normal for fleeting moments during our time together with family this weekend (of which we have this one photograph that was snapped without our knowing), as did my best friend when she drove to Jerusalem to spend the night with me after work one day, only to return to her office early the next morning (of which many images are frozen indelibly in our minds, but not on screens).
I sat with my best friend, as we always do. We cozied up in a big bed as we do so well, ordered in an array of beloved dishes to share, walked to the corner for evening fresh air, played around with makeup (changing it up from our typical DIY nail salon), and sent half-faced selfies to one we missed an extra lot, as we always do. She didn’t let me off the hook with hard questions, humored my terrible attempts at Hebrew sentence construction, smiled the smile that may be my favorite on planet earth, and set the alarm for us because she knows my morning antics, as we always do.
These two women have been my rocks, my confidantes, my teachers, my partners across life and work, continents and chapters, the monumental and the silly since 2010. If you know me well, you know them or at least know of them — and have all but certainly seen a photo or read a story or two about a wedding, child, parent, trip, adventure, birthday or the sort over the past decade.
Their hugs felt like prized embraces of a lifetime, yet held the natural ease of a full decade of best friend-dom, as our relationships only continue to grow closer. Each of them saw me after my accident in September, doing a personal hand-off between the hospital discharge and dental clinic intake, such that I would never be alone in my compromised state — and I have not gone more than a day or two without touching base via text since leaving Israel shortly thereafter — but these five months and the distance between us have felt like an eternity.
They confided in me and I in them. We dived deeper into conversations about topics that had only gotten a brief mention on WhatsApp, raised questions for further explanation or clarification, detailed medical happenings and outstanding necessities, went down the list to discuss every friend and family member we needed to touch base about, and broached topics for the first time that merit initial in-person dialogue. Both said they contemplated boarding a plane to San Francisco in my darkest moments, corroborated by their respective husbands, and ever sought new practical and philosophical ways to be available, positive, understanding and helpful for me throughout harrowing recovery. As has always been my experience in their presence, I felt truly seen, loved, welcomed, valued, physically and emotionally secure, well taken care of with whatever could arise, accepted exactly as I am — and never once made to be/do/say/hide/feign/defend a thing, nor show up as and for anyone but myself in her current state. I rested when I needed (or was gently urged/invited) to, accepted their pain meds without protest, was understood through my occasional stutter, and bore my bare uncovered make-up free face… and may have even clinked one glass of wine in the process.
I don’t know what “normal" is, nor if my life ever was such a thing, nor if it will be so again, nor if the concept exists in any way, shape or form. My best friend said we will never be normal (“we are too awesome for normal” is the precise quote) and I am inclined to agree for all the right reasons. But flashbacks to normalcy, glimpses of familiarity and reminders of that which I cultivated, crafted, co-created and cherished are glorious, nourishing and important. Without pressure or pretense, these two powerhouses have shined a light and raised a mirror on who I was, who I am and who I can/will be once more… normal or not.