I pulled into the driveway and parked my car.
I took my keys out of the ignition and drew in a deep, cold breath.
When I stepped out of the car, I saw that she was outside waiting for me underneath the porch light.
She smiled as I walked toward her.
She threw her arms around me and said, "Welcome home."
Then she kissed my forehead and told me to come inside.
"It's nice to have company. It get's lonely. Especially since my being an empty-nester is so recent. I miss having people around. You know that you're welcome anytime." She was so real in the way that she spoke. And I did feel welcome. I felt loved. And I felt wanted.
"So. How about a cup of coffee?" she asked as we walked into her kitchen.
It was very late, and I didn't need the caffeine. But, for some reason, a cup of coffee seemed like the perfect remedy to cure my broken spirit. I said yes as she pulled two ceramic mugs down from the cupboard. She filled them both to the brim and handed one to me. Then we went into her room and both took a seat on the queen sized bed.
She looked at me, smiled, and said, "Tell me everything."
I laughed and automatically began to speak.
And didn't stop. For a long time.
She never broke eye contact and nodded her head as she listened to me ramble on and on about things I had never felt the need to say before.
I rambled about the questions that I couldn't find answers to.
I rambled about the problems I couldn't seem to solve.
I rambled about the feelings that I never allowed myself to ramble about before.
I rambled about my dreams and how hopeless they seem.
Then, I opened my mouth and tried to ramble about the past, and how I wish so terribly that it were the present.
But I couldn't get out more than a sentence on that topic before my eyes welled up.
I knew the waterfall would pour if I said another word on the subject.
She saw this struggle as I stopped talking and put her hand on my shoulder.
"Hey," she said.
"It's okay to cry."
I laughed after she said this. And cried too.
Then we laughed and cried together.
No one had ever said that to me before.
It's a line I've heard in movies, no doubt, and probably read in many books.
But no one had ever said, to my face, that it was okay to cry.
It was nice to hear.
It was nice to know that I didn't need to keep it all together all the time.
And breaking down is allowed.
It's okay to cry.
There is strength in tears.
Then she took me out for a late-night slice of banana cream pie at the local diner.
Sometimes, life's okay.