Edwina’s birthday

On Wednesday, June 29, Edwina will turn 47 years old–the same age as me. I’ve been thinking about what I could do to make the day special. The girls and I decided we would take her a gift and then treat her to lunch.

Up until this point, most of the “gifts” I’ve given to Edwina have been out of necessity: a few groceries, some clothes, and so on. I know she appreciates what little I’m able to do for her, but I’d like to give Edwina something that lets her know I consider our friendship to be about more than just getting by.

After a lot of pondering, I purchased a collage frame. I have a whole collection of photos of Edwina, both alone and with people who are important in her life: friends at the church, including Rachael and Lisa; her favorite nurses at Cooper Green; her husband (who, I have to admit, I’ve never quite gotten the straight scoop on–are they officially married or together by virtue of their time on the street?); and others whose paths have crossed with hers since she and I first met. A few weeks ago, Edwina asked me for some pictures of me and my family, because she wanted to have them to look at when she’s sitting at home alone. When I handed her a stack of pictures, she beamed like I’ve never seen, telling me “These are my pictures, they’re just for me to look at.” I hope she’ll feel the same joy when we give her her birthday gift.

The bond Edwina and I share has grown strong, and I know that I want to write about our relationship to give our story some permanence. Every time I begin to outline a book on how we came to be, though, I find myself stumped. Where to begin? What is the shape of our story/stories? Everything about Edwina’s past and mine brought us to this point, and the details of her struggle with breast cancer dovetail with my own. Is the telling of our relationship a long, linear narrative, or is it a compilation of episodes, moments in which Edwina and I have discovered common ground? I have more thinking to do–or maybe less. Sometimes, writers just have to turn to a fresh page and let it all flow out.

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