BESIDE. A self-explanatory word that means to be by the side, or next to, someone or something. But it is a word that has changed through the years in its depth and width and breadth…
Beside was my mom next to me, holding me while I got stitches in my head when I was young after playing ghost with a blanket – that was obviously too long – and I tripped…sending me pitching downward to where my head met the ground violently. Beside was comfort.
Beside was my dad carrying me on his back, my arms wrapped around his neck, while he body-surfed at Waimea Bay…the water rushing and the waves crashing around me madly. Beside was security.
Beside was the secret service man sitting next to me on the South White House lawn when I was present at the welcome ceremony of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi…gun revealed as he leaned over to glance at something. Beside was intrigue.
Beside was the kind man who saw my tears flowing as I boarded a plane in high school, forced to move away from my dearest friends and beloved Colorado, and invited me to sit by him in the empty seat in first class…getting to experience the great food, the movie, the leather seats. Beside was diversion.
Beside was the weary but willing American traveler sharing my train compartment who answered a million questions since I’d just gotten off the plane for my solo trip through Europe…and realized how little I knew about how to go about doing what I was now doing. Beside was support.
Beside was the eager man standing next to me at the altar, a bit uncomfortable in such fancy clothes, making vows to love and honor and protect me forever in this life…sealed with a kiss. Beside was promise.
Beside was seeing a plus sign on the test, and feeling movement and knowing when he had hiccups and not being able to breathe too well…then pushing and delivering and enveloping his perfection in my arms. Beside was hope.
Beside was sitting in the closet, holding her in my arms while she cried and wanting to lash out bitter words toward the mean girl but choosing instead to speak life into the broken girl…wishing somehow I could take the pain. Beside was helplessness.
Beside was sitting in the audience to honor the graduations, memorialized with a small pieces of paper, and knowing the time and effort and decisions and heart that had gotten one, two, three, four of my beautiful babies to this point…their own achievements that I could not claim. Beside was pride.
Beside was discovering infidelity and wracking sobs and how could yous and why did yous and why didn’t Is…thinking if onlys. Beside was pain.
Beside was my mom lying next to and holding the frail and weak body of my daddy, surrounded by all the ones he loved best…sharing memories of the good and the not-so-good, laughing, crying. Beside was passage.
Beside was anger and even rage, leaving no staying, desperate conversations and counseling and therapy and support groups…demanding safety and boundaries and rebuilding trust. Beside was risk.
Beside was wrestling with the One who said He’d never leave or forsake me, throwing everything I had at Him and finally understanding He’d written my name, in red…and nothing could change that ever. Beside was Grace.
Beside was standing next to her, hugging her and listening to her make the same vows I’d made, knowing she was full of hope and dreams like her mother before her…and believing with her that these could come true. Beside was faith.
Beside is waking up in the middle of the night, legs entangled with HUSBAND, hearing his even breathing…him murmuring I love you and realizing I’d forgotten to be mad for a little bit. Beside is healing.
Beside. It is where I live.