We were overwhelmed with gifts and well-wishes for the adoption of our daughter. People reached out from even the farthest circles to bless us: An old friend drove five hours to celebrate our adoption. My husband's extended family wanted to plant a tree in our daughter's honor, and my sister’s in-laws got us a hydrangea bush. Friends and family who were adopted themselves shared their own beautiful stories. We were inundated with poop emoji paraphernalia and sticker books and tiny stuffed animals with huge, glittery eyes.
We even got a card in the mail from my fourth grade teacher.
It is truly a beautiful problem to have, the burden of thank-you notes.
Yes, they take forever--and they take even longer when a child is helping--but I have found them to be an act of meditation.
Meditation is hard for me. I am impatient by nature. Most of my meals are prepared in a microwave and I can hardly sit and watch TV because it requires focus. (My attention span is only about eight minutes.) Most of my attempts at meditation result in a frustrated surrender to chaos.
But I have found that writing thank-you notes is a sort of meditation.
The process is slow, but that is a gift in itself. They force us to sit down, to come to the page (or card, as it were) and reflect. We must consider each person, each gift, each act. We must remember why we are grateful. And then we record that gratitude.
Thank-you notes are a way to relive the blessing, and even though they are so slow, I believe they are necessary, because I know how much it means to receive them.
I’ve saved a lot of thank-you notes over the years. They are physical evidence of someone’s care and consideration for me. I have a drawer full of them, and I riffle through them when I need to be reminded that people do care, that they took the time to sit down, consider something I had given or done, and thank me for it.
And so I’ve been trying to do the same.
Ever so slowly.
Last week, I ran away to Hogwarts.
I ran away with my BFF from 7th grade, and the second our plane left the ground, we were 13 again. We watched Zoolander with shared headphones. We laughed until we were purple about the guy next to me who couldn’t stop farting. We shared snacks and ate until we felt sick.
This trip was our Mother’s Day present to ourselves, a chance to escape the responsibilities of motherhood and act like kids again.
So we made the most of it.
I had lost touch with this friend after high school graduation. For nearly a decade, we didn’t see each other. But recently, when she moved back to the area, we reconnected, and I’m so glad that we did.
I was ecstatic to learn that a decade had both changed nothing and everything.
In some ways, nothing has changed. Fart jokes are still hilarious. Zoolander still makes us laugh. Ice cream is still a meal, then a snack, and then a meal again an hour later. And Harry Potter is still totally magical.
But time has also changed everything. We are both seasoned by brokenness and loss, and we are better people for it. Time has opened the channel of honesty between us, and truth floods through it. We aren’t pretending to be what we’re not. We just are, which is what we couldn’t be in our teenage years because we did not yet know how.
I see her, I know her, and I love her.
And I think that love is reciprocated. I wasn’t embarrassed to tell her that my legs were chaffing so badly that I could hardly walk after our first day of vacation, and she shared in my self-deprecating laughter when we couldn’t find any powder at the store. But she didn’t laugh when I bought Desitin instead and then waddled out of the store like a saddlesore toddler.
Well, she didn’t laugh hard.
I can’t think of a better person to walk with me through the brick wall into Diagon Alley, into that place where the magic of childhood takes over.
I can’t think of a better person to join me in that place where time stops and then becomes fluid, past and present and future mingling, into that place where friendship is celebrated above all other virtues.
I can’t think of a better person to hold my hand as we scream on a rollercoaster. I can’t think of a better person to watch reruns of American Ninja Warrior with me. I can’t think of a better person to shop for seedy souvenirs with me after we eat our fill of cheap Indian curry.
Running away to Hogwarts made it possible to come back to our responsibilities with a sense of childlike enthusiasm and a sense of gratitude that the magic of our friendship is indeed quite real.