you are my identity
i share myself, my deepest and
you are a sister with no blood obligations,
a pair of,
just two people choosing to,
i have lost you.
you don’t know or won’t say –
this is what makes it true.
this is like death and
i want to,
numb. but i feel it and
too much. without you, there’s still
so much of you here,
without from the now,
i can’t, but i also can’t.
go be okay. i love you, but –
hard. we choose it.
sad to feel that right now you don’t.
I wrote this…whatever it is…poetry? After a falling out with my best friend. It was sudden, between two very stressed out people, and completely unexpected. And it’s a misnomer to call her my “best friend”. She’s someone that I can never remember being without, someone whom I have always seen in my future, and someone who has always been with me in the thick of it. A large part of who I am and how I identify myself rests in the safety and security of our sisterhood. This past birthday of hers, I gave her a mug that said, “Silver Anniversary” to celebrate 25 years of being together. Maybe it seems strange, knowing that anniversaries and birthdays have separate meanings. I never doubted that she would understand the gesture and she did, as only a best friend can.
I wasn’t ready to reach out to her after days and days of cold-shouldering each other. I wasn’t sure how.
Then I watched a movie called Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and if you’ve ever tied up your life and your fate with someone else’s, it is a movie you should watch (it was on Netflix Instant Play or else I never would have seen it in the first place). In a bygone era in China, girls would pledge to be each others’ laotong. It was a bond for life that cemented the desire of two girls or women to act as sisters and care for each other. Across time and distance, grief and loss, rise and fall of fortune, these women were tied to each other in a way that empowered their sense of self-worth and validated their hopes and sadnesses. In a time when women bound their feet and bowed to cultural norms imbued with the certainty that women were not full people, the movie posits that a laotong was the foundation on which some women could build happy and fulfilled lives.
I cried a lot, realizing that laotong was a superior way to describe my friend, my sister, than any definition in the Western world. I cried more, afraid that the movie might be exaggerating, that friendships like this are so rare that by definition they are glamorized, unreal. That made me the saddest because if it were true, then I felt really alone. I felt like there was no way I could restore this one-in-a-million, mythical and optional sisterhood I had experienced all my life.
But restoration does not come through me. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand…and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5. Restoration belongs to the Maker who put my friend in my life. He knew the hour that I would be born and created a friend so special and dear in order that we could accompany each other. I mean – God has restored me to Himself, and of all the seemingly absurd things of which I have written this evening (the bond with my friend, that we would have such a misunderstanding, the timing of the movie) that must surely seem the most beyond my limited reach. I cried out to Him angry, scared, and irreverent. He told me he wanted me anyway. And as beautiful as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan shows human relationships to be, so much more beautiful is the power of God to heal and make all things new. All things. And that is my greatest hope on Earth and in Heaven.