When these two dear women were girls, just about 40 years ago, we and their parents combined with them to exchange households and schools for a term. It was done in such a way that they would both be at Lakeside in Seattle for a term, living with Andrea’s family, and then the next term, they would both be at Catlin Gabel, in Portland, Oregon, living with us. Hester, the one on the right, our daughter, came in the middle between two boys, and she had been at Catlin Gabel since second grade. It was good to have that injection of another life, in both directions.
I don’t remember exactly how it all got arranged, or many of the details of the way it worked out, but I do know that the happy effects of the exchange endure even today. Alan and Sally Black, Andrea’s parents, had been our friends since before any of us was married. The years of having small children, graduate school, jobs sometimes in different cities, had meant time together was sparse but regular.
The bonds of friendship and love between more-than-sisters-and-brothers grew in ways we hardly could have expected, in both generations. Now, I feel a little like those “nurse trees” you see in the forests, not altogether disintegrating but clearly moving toward another plane, and watching the strong new life emerge. Beyond these two there come others. Hester is already a grandmother.
The immediacy of this doesn’t so much mitigate the anguish at everything that is terrible, the deaths, the out-of-control feeling in a world where even gun control will not stop the terror, as it does to say we just have to understand that both exist, and that’s how it is. It is a knife edge we live on, and always has been, but we have a choice about how to perceive that edge.