Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn

Big Trees

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One of the things we love about our house is that when we sit outside on the deck it feels like we’re at a campground. There are just the right amount of trees around to make us feel a little secluded, though the visible lights on at the neighbors’ homes so remind us that they are close. For a family who loves camping, but who also loves the feel of a sweet neighborhood, it’s perfect. The trees are one of my favorite things around here- and there are several different kinds. There are smaller ones that are more recently planted and more visible every day. There are four of them in our front yard that are part of our landscaping. We trim them back occasionally and notice them every day when we’re coming and going from the house. Our home would definitely not be the same without them and we love them. But there are also the bigger trees in the back of the house. They are tall and towering. Their roots are deep and sprawling. They are not as noticeable on a daily basis, but stand strong and firm every day. When it’s stormy and windy, that’s when we notice those ones more. That’s when they move and draw attention to themselves. Together, all of the trees are what makes our home comfortable to us, and exactly what we love.

A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to spend a day with 4 of my closest friends… from middle school… over 25 years ago! We met each other when we were 11 years old and we became very close from the start. We have SO many memories of hanging out with each other. Many more people were added to the mix since that 6th grade year, but there is something special that is hard to define when you have the kind of history that we have. As with every friendship, our time together wavered as we went through high school, but the deep roots were planted firm enough that we could withstand everything. They are my “big trees” in life…. they have always been there- strong and steady. Sometimes unnoticed, but they stand out during the storm. They’ve been incredibly present and attentive during my storm this year. And I’m constantly reminded of how wonderfully they’ve held space with me when I’ve needed it.

During our time over that weekend, we looked through a LOT of pictures, had a ton of laughs, and I was so pleasantly reminded why I love these girls so much. I couldn’t help thinking that Olivia is almost to the age that I was when these friendships started. But things are so different for our own kids and the next generation. Our kids and their friends text and Facetime each other. They play the “words with friends” app instead of sitting at a table playing Scrabble. They are entertained by watching the same YouTube sensations at home and then talking about it the next day instead of sitting next to each other on the couch watching tv and taking bathroom breaks during commercials. But I will try my hardest to encourage my girls to disconnect from technology and be present with their friends during this preciously formative time in life. What young girl doesn’t remember the contagious giggles you get when you’re delirious- especially at sleepovers? You can’t “catch the giggles” through texting. 

I experienced such sweet memories during this recent weekend- the way Carly Caruso rubs her nose when she talks about things that concern her; Megan Nagel’s impeccably-timed humor; Trisha Brunazzi’s sarcastic tone in her voice; and Mindy Brisbane Vickers’ contagious laughter. Those beautiful nuances are noticed and treasured so deeply. And when Mindy jumped up to give me a hug the moment she saw my eyes starting to well up with tears while telling a story- that couldn’t even begin to be translated through technology if we hadn’t been together in that moment. I’m so thankful to be on the receiving end of love from this crew. Sharing physical space and such sweet memories with my friends since 25 years ago is the reason we still share meaningful emotional space now that we’re older. And reminds me that each of the memories of this experience through cancer- all of the meals, cards, time, messages, donations, and visits- are making the roots of relationships with all of you even deeper and stronger as well- strong enough to withstand any storm.
(Hopefully we’ll see more of those life-long friend at our 20 year reunion. Erin SearfossKaitlin McHughSteph ByhamMandy Daughenbaugh-Smith… and somehow you should be there too, Jessica Wypasek Gregory!)

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