It’s been seven years, Facebook recently reminded us, since we met that day in the rain.
We were mothers helping chaperone an eighth-grade field trip – the first of three school-led trips to Valley Fair I’d make with my children, and the rainiest by far.
Most of the adults not yet on circling duty huddled under a shelter near an eatery, harboring a collection of umbrellas and raingear while sizing up the endless clouds.
Our children didn’t seem to notice the rain, and though our hair and clothes sagged a bit, our time under the shelter proved fruitful; the clouds offered us a chance to get to know each other better and discover commonalities beyond our children.
I was especially drawn to one mother with a sunny disposition that seemed to pierce the gray and help make our long day pass more quickly. In the following months, we continued to cross paths on occasion, but four years later I found myself keeping her closer in view.
I’d sent out my weekly invitation on Facebook gathering prayer requests to bring to my church’s Adoration chapel, and hers came privately, with urgency. Her husband had been diagnosed with cancer, even as they were preparing for the graduation of their youngest child. Would I pray for his healing, and for them to move through this with grace? I would, with diligence, not just then but over the next year and beyond.
A few months later, my own husband received critical health news, and as we prepared for his first of two open-heart surgeries, I became the beggar of her prayers.
Then, around the time her husband’s health took a questionable turn, we learned we’d be facing a second heart surgery. “Let’s do coffee,” she suggested. That turned into lunch later, and then another as we poured out our secret suffering to one another.
“I feel like you’re the only person who understands what I’m going through,” she said during one of those sessions, through tears. “Me, too,” I said, my own eyes watery.
It was another of God’s surprises, for she’d begun as a casual friend, but now, her friendship had become imperative and life-giving. And it occurred to me later that God knew our futures, even as the rain fell all those years ago, including how much we’d need each other these past months.
Back on that rainy day at Valley Fair in May 2012, as our buses left the parking lot to turn home, the clouds began to part, and the sun shone brightly. Of course, we thought. But in many ways, that day now seems prophetic and symbolic, for we’ve both been given hopeful news regarding our husbands’ health. Today, the clouds have parted in our lives after a downpour, just as on that day.
Despite the hard roads we’ve each walked, together we’ve found hope and courage in our friendship formed in rain, thanks be to God.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on July 20, 2019.]