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In the Silence: A Story of Friendship

Written July 22, 2015 by Candice Coates

Well, I am going to go then,” I thumb toward the front door from the back deck and look down at him, waiting for him to respond. We have been sitting out here for the last couple of hours. The perfect buffet line for every mosquito in the neighborhood.

He stares forward still unmoving before finally tilting his head around to look at me. He can’t see my face, which is a good thing. The sun behind my head has created the perfect backdrop, veiling my features in darkness.

Like I said, it is a good thing. I have never been good at poker, and I can’t mask my expressions so well anymore. When this began I was good at it, but it hass been almost a year now.

I began to wear down six months ago.

His eyes glance down at my toes and he grins. I must be balling them and releasing them again, a telltale sign that I am irritated. He is very astute that way.

He chances another peek at my face, still veiled in black, now with a scowl that he still can’t see and he says, “So soon? It’s only been,”

“Two hours,” I say, the words gliding over my sighing like a surfboard against a gentle wave. Two hours doesn’t seem like much to Gavin. He isn’t the one who has to fight through traffic to get back to the other side of town. On a good day, it takes me an hour.

“Two hours,” he repeats my words and then readjusts himself where he is seated. The blanket he keeps over his atrophied legs slides down to the ground at the feet of his walker, and he struggles to reach it. I intervene.

“I’ll do it, Gavin.”  I squeeze in between his chair and mine, reaching for the blanket. He pulls it up just as my fingers connect with it.

“No worries, love. I can do it. I don’t need you to do everything for me.”

His tone isn’t bitter. It just…is. And it freezes me still because that was what I used to come here for, to help him, to do for him what he could no longer do.

The accident broke more than just his legs and hips, it broke his soul. It broke me too.

I have been his only constant help besides the nurse who checks on him a few times a week, and the physical therapist who draws more swear words from his lips than a leech does blood.

Even though he has gotten better, rehabilitation has been slow moving, even for a man in his prime, so has our conversations. I miss him, even though I sit next to him almost daily for hours in silence, worrying about my cancerous gas bill for my car. I don’t say anything to Gavin about it. I don’t say much of anything anymore.

He doesn’t respond as much as he did before this. Most of the words I have heard from him over the last few months have been whenever his mother or other family members call from across the pond, and by that I mean England.

I feel like an intruder and less of a friend. I don’t know why I come around anymore. I don’t know how to read him anymore. I finally get up my nerve and ask the question that has been beating within my heart like a caged bird. “What is it that you do need from me, Gavin?”

Truly I am at a loss, but I don’t tell him that. His astuteness allows him to discern that all on his own.

For nearly a complete minute he stares into my eyes, doesn’t glare, just stares as if he has wakened up for the first time and has only just at that moment recognized who I am.

A smile spreads across his stubbly jaw. He takes my hand and coaxes me into standing only to guide me back to the front of my chair.

“Gavin,” I say his name and begin to resist. It’s to little avail. His legs are weak, not his arms.

“I need you to sit, that’s all.” The smile has gone but there is a “please” dancing in his cinnamon eyes.

Sit, in silence, a silence that has been deafening and confusing. Silence that has made me feel awkward and unwelcome, a silence that has made me…I pull the length of my skirt around my legs and lean back into the chair next to him, revelation biting me harder than any of the mosquitoes that have made their meal of me.

Me. This isn’t about me. This is about my friend and his need. This is about his healing and his acceptance of what has happened to him. I suddenly want to cry for having been so selfish, and foolish for missing it.

What did he need? What did he want during his time of loss and struggle to gain himself again? For me to sit. In silence. That is all.

“You want me to sit? That is all?” I ask, tasting the salty savor that comes within my mouth whenever there is a threat of tears.

“No,” he shakes his head, another smile teasing the corners of his lips. “I want you to sit, and have a biscuit.”

I scowl as he chuckles and I snatch the cookie from the plate. He knows that word drives me bananas.

“Thank you, friend,” he says, his jaw bulging with the morsel he has shoved in his mouth. Then he grabs my hand, gives it a gentle squeeze, and even though he loosens his hold, he doesn’t let go as we stare forward again, together, in silence.



Watching the ones we care about being wounded and then heal, can be one of the most difficult valleys to walk through. Our purest desire out of our love for them is to help them, to show we care.

Often our care seems to be met with what seems like indifference and silence. It is an easy thing to take these responses personally, but what we often fail to see, even though we are hurting alongside that person is that the pain is first their pain that they have shared with us. In other words, we are to abide by their rules in their moment of vulnerability.

This does not mean we enable them to do themselves further harm, but it does mean if all they need is silence and our company, then out of love that is what we should give them.

The Bible says we are to share one another’s burdens (GALATIANS 6:2), we are to cry when our brothers and sisters cry, grieve when they grieve, rejoice when they rejoice…be silent when they are silent (ROMANS 12:15). 

After reading someone’s testimony about grief, Christa Wells wrote this wonderful song that speaks volumes as to how we, the friends, the lovers, the sisters, and brothers, are to help the ones we love when they are broken. It is called Come Close Now.

Take a listen. If you go to the Youtube page, you can read the lyrics. I pray it will help you better help those you love whenever they need you to just sit with them in silence.

* Photo by Artur Aleksanian on Unsplash

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