My daughter’s friend Abby is going through a rough patch. Actually, rough patch is an understatement. A major understatement. Because it’s not just rough. It’s very dark and excruciatingly painful. And it’s not just a patch, either. It’s been a long time–over a year. An immeasurably long time in the life of a teenager.
It is painful to watch her fight this battle. And it is painful to see my own daughter’s pain as she tries to understand, as she tries to help her friend, as she worries that this dark journey will never end.
Yesterday, my younger daughter showed me a video that the older one had texted her. It was a video of a group of neighborhood girls that had been taken almost three years ago, when a sudden summer storm had uprooted a tree and dropped it in the middle of our street. The five girls in the video danced around the tree, jumping on limbs, laughing, and shouting in excitement.
“Oh, look at you!” I said, remembering nine year old Paige and eleven year old Claire. “Look at how much you’ve grown!”
“And Hayley! And Sarah! Look at them!” I laughed as I remembered them all, these little girls who had grown so much but who still, at times, could show this same enthusiasm. “You guys were so silly! So cute!”
But, next to Claire, there was this other girl. And she was laughing and singing and dancing with the others. But I did not recognize her. I did not know her.
“Who is that?” I asked, leaning closer into the small screen.
Paige leaned over too, and when she answered me her voice was soft with disbelief. “Mom,” she said. “That’s Abby.”