Unexpected pathways

I saw her walking with purpose as I entered the grocery store on a post-work errand for provisions.
“You smell just like my mother!”
Jammed up right behind the hug and the hello, this blurted exclamation marked the start of a conversation with a friend from the past.
After I tried to remember which scent I’d selected as my aromatic signature that morning, the neurons in my brain sparked and snapped to attention. I immediately recalled the death of her mother a few years back. I felt instant empathy through that common loss.
We chatted for a bit – the obligatory grocery store snap chat of five minutes or less.
You know the one.
How are the kids?
How are you?
What’s new?
“Busy” is always woven into the commentary.
But with this friend, it is the unsaid that connects us.
Beyond the loss of our mothers, we’d walked parallel paths for a while – our oldest sons shared an early friendship and a graduation year. Our youngest children were sixth-grade sweethearts. 
And during the raising up of the children, the impact of the Great Recession caused us both to lose our house but not our home.
She was a source of solace for me then. At ballgames and track meets, we would talk about it.
And then return to our separate lives.
She knew how it felt.
The sorrow and shame.
The faith and hope that would follow.
She helped me to understand that it would be okay.
To understand that it was just a house and that my home was with my family – no matter how big or small the dwelling. 
It’s now a decade later. Our lives are not connected in the sense of the everyday. But from those threads of loss and struggle, we are sisters.
It’s unspoken but understood.
After that pause in the twilight for a quick conversation, I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the wisdom that arrives in the aftermath of hardship and for the unexpected pathways that always lead us home.

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