When I was young, only three or four, I used to wander about the garden. I could feel the grass beneath my small, soft feet, despite my mother’s insistence that I wear shoes. I, with my imagination and hopes, would wish that I could speak another language. I had a friend, whom I have discovered after many years, has been the best of my life. I would wander about the garden with him. He is the kind of person that seems to be everywhere. When I squatted to observe our lily of the valley, He would simply pop out at me from between them. He wandered with me in the garden. Though He was always much taller than I, he never struggled to bring his kind eyes close to mine. He smiled often, all the time, really. Not the dumb smile of someone oblivious to life, but the kind of smile that can only be understood as delight and, without a doubt, as love. Around the garden we wandered, and I found that I could speak another language. Quite honestly, I did not understand it then. My friend did though, and whenever I sang in this strange tongue, he invited his friends too. They were also rather tall and they danced as I sang. I don’t recall exactly, but I do believe that they may have joined in from time to time. We had a great deal of fun, I think, filling my back garden with song.
It has been ages since I’ve seen any of them back there though. Just like the neighbor children, they were apt to show up unexpectedly. Perhaps they grew up or moved away, but I suspect it was me. It has also been ages since I’ve gone out to sing in the garden. I am never there now. I know another language now, and it isn’t the one I used to sing. It’s French, beautiful, refined, elegant, but I don’t see my old friend when I speak or sing it.
I never used to be alone. It never got cold. Of course the air got colder as the temperature plummeted in the winter time, but I was never cold in my heart, never alone. Now, alone seems normal and the brief moments I have to exchange words or spend time with my oldest and dearest friend are too few. Rather than taking joy in that time, finding the closest garden, I hide myself. I pretend to be good and well. I am not though. I am sick and getting sicker. My heart, poor thing, shrivels slowly. It is dry, parched in longing for the only friendship that ever brought an end to loneliness, the only thing that ever flowed like water in my soul. If I am a disappointment to myself, I must be to Him as well. Are not our perceptions of ourselves always accurate descriptions of how we ought to be viewed by others?
When I was six or seven, I got a pink bike for my birthday. I learned to ride it with the help of my parents and siblings. Soon I would fly along, riding around the block, stretching my boarders, moving away from the garden and into the neighborhood. I would zip down the hill, wind flying around and through me, my short hair whipping around my head. Then, past my house I would go, peddling up the hill. For a second, I would close my eyes; before me, stood my friend. His eyes were as kind as ever. He was cheering me on, the way close friends do, without words. His eyes never lost that incredible look. They never stayed one color. The moment that you thought you could make out that they were blue, you could see the deepest brown, like wells. He always seemed delighted though.
That is what it is like now, as I fly through the air. If I close my eyes, I can see his smile, his face. He is right next to me. He doesn’t even have to be, because he is in me, the way the best friends are. I close my eyes, and I know that being lonely is only temporary. In fact it already seems distant. I am so full of His eyes, His love, His smile. How can anyone be alone while they stare at a face like that? There have been moments that I have stared at those eyes and I have burst into tears, but not now. This time, the only response I have is to smile back. I let the love explode all over us. Smiles grow until both our faces are positively beaming. When we are together, nothing could steal the words only our eyes can speak, nothing, not even death.
I am not lonely now. I only hope. I only smile.