My daughter peeked through the crack in my bedroom door smiling from ear to ear mimicking the morning sun. When she discovered I was awake, sitting in bed sipping tea, she bolted into the room Rocky-style; raising her fists over her head, ponytail swinging while dancing a circular jig. “It ended the way I wanted it to,” she exclaimed delirious with joy. “Shows never end the way I want them to, but this, it ended exactly the way I was hoping.”
We’re basking in the frayed edges of spring break, grasping every minute of unscheduled as if it will hold us together when real life resumes. She got up early to finish watching a series on Hulu, one I’d enjoyed over a decade ago, full of teen drama and romance. The underdog won the girl’s heart in the final episode. She was obviously elated. After the roller coaster of suspense and broken relationships, she wondered if true love wins in the end.
And perhaps we’re all waiting for the happy endings, holding our breath through disappointments in the middle. But the in-between, the everyday wrestling, it’s actually the place where the beautiful mystery is cultivated. The bitter that makes the end taste sweet.
According to Margaret Feinberg, Mem is a word Jewish people use to refer to God, the middlemost letter of the Hebrew alphabet. “Because they recognize God doesn’t only go before them or after them, but He is with them every step of the way.” It’s something I’ve known, and now I’m living.
Earlier this week, I spent sacred moments reuniting with a heart friend from England. As newcomers to this seaside town rooted in generations of unfamiliar family names, we breathed easier when our eyes met across a crowded room. But her family left eighteen months ago in a hurry. We barely had time for goodbyes.
I nearly forgot how being known by a friend felt.
As we talked and laughed freely, we realized how much life changed in her absence. Neighborhoods and growth spurts, babies and church splits, yet our friendship remains, deepening during the middle. And I’m not sure why I’m surprised.
I laced up my shoes this morning, reacquainting with solitary, my faithful friends a canopy of birdsong. Stopping to admire spring, the wonder of creation shouts Mem pushing despair down among the decay. The wintering of relationships, the weathering of what was once winsome now reveals the beauty of where true love waits.
And I’m thankful for happy endings. They’re not always what you hope for. They’re better.