“What are YOU doing up this late?” My friend Joanne messaged me online.
I glanced disbelieving at the clock. It couldn’t really be that late, could it?
I’m just chatting with Joe… I typed back.
I could almost hear her Kiwi accent through my computer.
Ohhhh, really? Again? Don’t stay up too late 😉 – she answered as she disappeared offline.
I smiled. This freedom was such a wonderful change from the immense stress of the last year. I couldn’t help it – I was finding myself smiling even more lately.
For the first time in forever, I was happy!
I had met my friend Amy’s brother Joe at her wedding. We started texting back and forth, checking on each other. Then came the phone calls. We commiserated over the ways our marriages had ended, and we bonded over the devastation that infidelity had torn through our hearts. Instead of dreading the dark and empty house at night, talking to my friend Joe at the end of the day had become something that I looked forward to.
I sent him a birthday card – a funny rockstar bulldog on the front, and I included a little blue robot magnet for his refrigerator inside. I knew how horrible that first birthday after divorce could be, and I hoped it would brighten his day even a little.
Slowly our conversations went beyond our exes and our pain – and we started to learn more about each other. We had both grown up in similar large families. Homeschooling had played a huge part in our youths. We covered many topics during our evening phone calls and found that we also shared similar views on life. Because I had known his family for over 10 years, I knew that he was being genuine – and not merely agreeing with everything that I said. Refreshing, I thought.
Why did you decide to go into the Air Force?
Do you plan to homeschool your boys?
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Where would you most like to travel?
What do you want people to remember about you, after you’re gone?
What is something on your bucket list?
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Do you like sushi?
Joe was becoming my buddy. Even a kindred spirit. We certainly shared many of the same values, and we were also healing from devastating betrayal and divorce. Even though our hearts had been broken by the ones we had held most dear, we found it oddly easy to trust the other. I humbly thanked the Lord for sending me a pal to go through this with me.
With each conversation, I sensed another layer of my heart was mending with the help of his friendship.
And then it happened.
I did it. I just signed up for another six month deployment to Afghanistan. I leave in November.
I felt the wind rush out of me. He had mentioned this possibility of volunteering to deploy again. There was nothing and no one to tie him down now, so he had thought about getting away for a while. It had been decided.
It was at this moment I realized that he was no longer my friend Amy’s little brother. He was my friend. My good friend. And soon he would be off to war for six whole months.
We had talked about meeting halfway someday. Kansas City, maybe. As we realized that the time before his upcoming deployment was getting shorter, he brought up Kansas City again. Was I still interested in meeting up at some point?
Actually, I told him, I was going to be in KC over the next weekend visiting my friend Joanne. Joe had also met Joanne in Texas earlier that summer when she went down to photograph our friend (and his sister) Amy’s wedding.
Joanne and I were planning a girls’ weekend complete with shopping, chick flicks, and laughter. Something told me that my Tribalwoman wouldn’t mind terribly giving up at least part of our weekend to let me see Joe. In fact, when I brought it up with her, she offered to let Joe stay at her house too.
I could hear the teasing smile in her voice. “No sense in him driving all that way just to see you for a day! Tell him he can stay in the basement, if he wants.”
After I made sure that she was perfectly fine with nixing our girls’ weekend, I nervously relayed her message to Joe. Poor guy. He probably didn’t want to spend the whole weekend together, I thought. But maybe…
To my surprise, Joe actually seemed excited when I mentioned her offer! We started talking about what we could see and do in KC, and for the first time in forever, I felt it.
Something was stirring in my heart. This had begun as a friendship between two broken spirits, but for the first time I was starting to wonder if it could possibly be something more…
~ Our Story ~
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In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives - to see what...