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The Stranger at the Park

How many times have you been to a park, playground, etc., and there were other people there too, but you just kept to yourself and didn’t converse much with the others?  You sit and watch your kids play with theirs, you casually nod a hello to the parent, but that’s about it… This happens to me, sadly, a lot.  But after today, I don’t think I will ignore the strangers at the park anymore.

Today was a very pretty day.  The wind was blowing pretty hard until this afternoon, so after I’d been to the gym and then on a walk to pick Macy up from school, we asked our friends if they wanted to head to the small park with us.  The kids love the park closer to the school, the one by the pond, but I had forgotten to grab Olivia’s shoes, so we would have to go to the park by our house instead, so that we could run home and grab shoes beforehand.  We grab shoes and the car, and head to the playground.  Our friends text to tell us that they weren’t going to be able to come after all.  Bummer!  There was a gentleman at the picnic tables, and I didn’t feel up for conversation, so I stayed close to the kids who were running around screaming “Playtime!! Playtime!!” — as if we never get out much hahaha.  After a bit, another mom, her dog, and her two kids, came to the playground as well.  The mom and I eventually made our way to the picnic table at different times, and started casually chatting.  Not something I typically do, especially on days when I look like death and probably smell that way too (gym day, remember?!).  But the slow and steady conversation was welcomed for some reason…

As we laughed at the kids playing — Olivia chasing her son, her daughter & Macy running after him as well — we discussed the kids and how different they were.  We discussed our dogs.  We discussed how they were moving to the country soon.  Topic soon changed to where they were headed after living here for the last 6 months.  Come to find out, she’s from the area where I grew up – the area where my family is to this day.  We talk about how it’s such a small world.  I mean, we’re from a really small town back east!  Crazy to find someone from the same place, living so close to you, but it does happen!

After getting into a conversation about the police activity up the street, we touch on the fact that she’s from my home town, she tells a little more about her history there, and then we get to the point where we realize we’d attended the same school when we were young, and we graduated in the same year, just from different cities & schools.

I must add, we had been sitting on this bench for a good while, talking about nothing much of importance, just laughing at the kids, saving her daughter from ant bites, playing with the dog who Olivia just loved… it was a normal thing learning about her family and mine back home, learning about her kids, etc.

Then God.

God flashed that lightbulb over my head and made me FINALLY ask her who she was!  I’d assumed her last name from our conversation (her family was well-known back home), but I didn’t go to school with anyone with that last name, so it hadn’t dawned on me that I might actually know HER.

Leaving a ton of details out, I come to find out — She was one of my best friends during my grade school years up until she moved in 4th(I think?) grade!!!!  I’d not talked to her since she moved away, and here we were, 37(eek, 38 is creeping up on me here shortly!!) years old, sitting on the same picnic table, at the same park, living in the same neighborhood (literally just around the corner from my house!), in the same city, coming from the same itty bitty town (less than 1500 when I was in grade school probably) two hours east of here.  Just discussing dogs, kids, schools, police activity, and pine trees!!  Not even knowing who we really were!  HA!

I am so blessed knowing her now.  When we were kids, something terrible happened in her life and I never knew what happened, and never understood why she left or where she ever went.  As a shy kid, I guess I just assumed that she didn’t care to be in touch with me.  And besides, we didn’t have Facebook or email way back then.  So our friendship all those years just abruptly came to a stop.

And there she was, hugging me in the small neighborhood park, while our kids played on the slide with each other, having no clue why their moms were giggling and carrying on as we were.

God has blessed her family immensely, and they will be moving in about two weeks.  This makes my heart sad.  I just found her again!!  But that’s another reason God is SO SO good!!  We will not lose touch now.  We have so much to catch up on.  So much lost time.  So many stories to tell.

We may have only been best friends when we were little bitty.  She may only remember me by the way I cried every day at school because I was so shy. But there are not a lot of people I kept in touch with after school, for many reasons.  She, however, is always one I wanted to find.

And today, I did.  Praise Jesus!!!

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