At the Table 8

at the tableI was nervous, but I went anyway.

I went without any makeup, in faded, old sweats, in runnings shoes, which I never wear unless I’m, you know, actually running.

I had good, solid, viable reasons to excuse myself.

I was tired. I didn’t feel like it. What if they didn’t like me.

See? Good reasons.

My friend and two other women were preparing dinner for a group of kids for a school event, and my friend invited me to help. Actually, she invited me to come gawk at the kids and tell her goofy stories while she did the work, and I went because I wanted to see her and gawk and listen to goofy stories, and pour sparkling juice into champagne flutes for the young adults.

I didn’t know the other moms, but I put on my pearliest smile and walked in the door. They handed me a glass of wine and we got to work. They asked me questions. I asked them questions. We talked about our kids and their schools. We served dinner and poured drinks and took photos. We admired the young girls in their dresses, the boys in their ties.

The kids trundled off for the rest of their night, and we sat down at the kitchen table with a wedge of cake and a bottle of wine. Here we were not moms. We were women. We were people. 

She talked about her cancer, She talked about moving from one country to another and how it was hard. So hard. She said that after practicing law for nine years, she gave it up, for a little baby. We went round and round, our voices rising and falling, tumbling over each other’s. Laughter, impassioned speeches, quite murmurs of assent.

As I drove home, I knew two things. That when I am on the edge of a downward spiral, I isolate and insulate. And I knew that when I push against it, and teeter myself backward against that edging hurt, I enter a world where people tie me back together.

At the table, there is more than one ache in one lonely heart. At the table, there is healing. At the table, there is community. Communion. Sometimes it looks like a bottle of wine and a wedge of cake.