"I've got a big job ahead of me," he said out of the blue.
"I want to be your best friend, but you've already got the best friends in the world."
I shyly smiled. We'd been back together for only a couple of weeks and hearing that meant everything to me. At the same time, I had to agree. How could he be the first on my list to know my highest highs and lowest lows? My wonderful friends are cut from numerous distinct fabrics and each of them tend to get different pieces of me. How could any one person possibly get top billing?
A few months have since passed and I can safely say that Mark has securely filled that spot. He's listened to me moan about homework, housework, parenting, ex-spousing, stubbed toes and broken fingernails. He's seen me dolled up for a party, gowned down in the ER and sweaty after a 12 mile run. He's eaten my culinary triumphs as well as kitchen failures. We can casually chat politics, then religion, but somehow always return to the same conversation we had the first day I re-entered his life. What color should his dining room be? We share a very comfortable, caring, easy friendship with a deep and passionate undercurrent of love.
And now it's my turn to step up to the plate.
At this moment he's going through something far more challenging than all of my piddly woes combined. While we watch his mother slip away from us, my job is...well...I'm not certain what it is. So I answer the phone when it rings, hoping it's not the news, I listen as he conveys any new information about her condition and nod when he convinces himself that he's ready to let her go.
And I'm learning a big-girl lesson right now. Life doesn't stop, even when life is stopping. Nearly every other facet of Mark's life is unrelenting, and mine continues to whiz past me almost too quickly for me to catch it by the tail. My focus is shifting, however. I will meet my deadlines, I will feed my children and I might even wipe my kitchen counters, but I'm preparing for the moment when the phone call is that phone call from my best friend who will be hurting differently than he ever has. And I will try to be there for him in the right way...which I guess I'll figure out when I get there.