We went out on the deck, down to the little bed full of herbs, obstensibly to clip some fresh basil to accompany dinner, when he sat down on the step and gently started the conversation. "Tell me about the argument you had with Flash last night." It wasn't anything I might have brought up, other than to say we could chalk up one more disagreement between the teen and the mother, but he wanted to know, he had been wondering about it.
And so I explained - another laziness versus expectations argument, really, and he nodded and listened. And I dug a little deeper and questioned whether my consequences were appropriate and how I might produce a change in Flash's attitude, and he listened and nodded and asked a question or two. And he told me of a conversation he had with Flash earlier in the day and what he saw in that and how he had calmly steered Flash through that dialogue.
The moment on the steps, looking out over the lawn was so simple, so easy, so unremarkable, really, but it's all those reasons that make it remarkable. This man so easily slid into the routines of family life, so gently came alongside me and somewhere along the way has taken my hand and walked in step with me, listening and encouraging as we walk this journey together. He doesn't pretend to have the answers to parenting questions, nor does he come with a critical view as an outsider looking in. He sits with me and validates my concerns and allows me the freedom to be frustrated, angry, worried or stressed. He offers nothing more than an ear, a shoulder and sympathy.
I am not the same kind of friend as he is. When frustrations are shared, I'm quick to think of solutions, or ways it might have been avoided, or even judgments on those involved. I'm ready with advice or my own story when a friend comes with a need to share.
But not him. I am so touched by the way he loves me, so moved by the grace with which he relates to us. Sitting on the back steps, talking through a silly fight that will be remembered if only for the number of times we'll have these in this stretch of years, I learned a lot from the man sitting next to me. He is true, and honest and real. He is genuinely concerned, sympathetic and there to share the load. It is hard, being a single parent for so long, to release that load or share the burden. But he knows I will handle it and I never feel as though he doubts my ability to do so, in fact, he encourages me and supports me in such a way that gives me the strength I need to handle things as they come. He knows Flash and I will work it out. He knows his place right now is simply to support us both, to sit on a step and listen. And he does so with such grace. Such gentle grace.
And I feel so blessed to be loved by him.