Friendship’s Gifts

I’m going to have a heart attack if Kiara doesn’t slow down. Laura tried to quicken her step.

“I’m scared.” Kiara picked up her pace again.

“What’s your greatest fear?” Laura grabbed her young friend’s arm and pulled. “You’re going to have to slow down a bit if you expect me to keep up.” She bent over, put her hands on her knees, and struggled for air. “I’m not used to this pace.”

Kiara swung on her friend. “I didn’t ask you to come. I don’t need your questions. And if you quote another Bible verse to me, I’m going to …” the words faded into staggered gulps, then melded into sobs.

Laura wrapped her arms around Kiara. What words could she possibly give that would make a difference? Maybe paying attention more while reading the counselor training guide would have been good. But maybe at times like this, no words seemed right.

Moments later, Kiara and Laura sat on a bench at the trailhead. Laura shifted, stood, removed her jacket, and placed it on the cold surface, then sat down again. She reached, palm up, toward Kiara.

“I know it’s been hard since Brian … it’s not been long … it’s always difficult …” Why wouldn’t the words come? If she couldn’t comfort a friend with such a loss, how could she hope to help anyone else?

“See, even you don’t have a good answer for me. Why would God …” she bolted from the bench and ran down the path where the grass and trees fused together.

Laura picked up her jacket, turned, and headed toward home. She lifted her eyes. Orange and pink mixed like food coloring. Pale blue danced with golden petals as the sun peaked from its resting place. A new day. Great for fresh beginnings. She shook her head. “But that’s not how Kiara feels. What do I do, God?” With slow, ponderous steps, she put one foot in front of the other. Nothing. No great revelations. No words of wisdom. No inner whispers.

Almost home, she glanced down the street and tilted her head. How long had it been since Kiara had shopped? With a quickened pace, Laura hurried up her front steps, threw open her door, grabbed her purse, and raced to the grocer.

Thirty minutes later, she pulled her car into Kiara’s drive. After an unanswered knock, Laura smiled and put a bag between the screen door and the wooden door.

Three days later, she did the same. This time adding a single carnation along with a bag of books.

Two more days passed until she tiptoed to the door with ingredients for cookies. How long had it been since Kiara baked? Most likely too long.

The weekend would be harder to manage without being seen. Wasn’t this the weekend Kiara planned to go back to work? Once again, as Laura lowered the groceries with a potted plant, the inner door swung open.

“I should have known it was you.” Kiara stood with arms crossed. Her foot tapped out a silent song’s beat.

Laura didn’t budge. What to say? Was Kiara mad? Hurt?

Kiara opened the screen door and leaned across the plant and bag. Her arms wrapped around Laura and pulled. Within a few seconds, the precarious position wouldn’t hold anymore. They released each other. Laura picked up the items she’d brought.

“Isn’t there some verse about new beginnings?” Kiara pushed the door behind her open farther.

“I think it’s in Isaiah 43. We can look it up together.” Maybe sometimes actions really do speak louder than words.



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