I could hear the laughter on the back porch. It wasn’t casual. It was nonstop, deep belly laughter.
I asked my wife what was going on. She told me my daughter had a visitor, so I made my way out to see the two of them and say hi.
They were sitting at the table. Cheese and crackers, hardly touched. Wine glasses, half full. Permanent smiles from ear to ear.
The two of them politely paused and welcomed my presence at the doorway. I asked all the quick catch-up questions that a father would. How’s your mom and dad, your brother, the baby, your partner, your job, the apartment. And most importantly, how are you.
It was about 10 minutes. Sincere, but perfunctory. So good to see you. I’ll leave you two alone.
I closed the door. The laughter began again.
We had moved in when my daughter was 5, some 21 years ago. The visitor was her first friend. She lived across the street, was the same age, and was the original blessing my daughter would receive in her new life in Rhode Island.
It’s a classic neighborhood tale. As the story reportedly goes, soon after moving in, my daughter cold-called at the front door and asked the mom if they had any cats. The answer was a simple yes. That wasn’t what she wanted to hear, because at the time, she was no fan of cats. To her credit, she shook off the news and asked to play. She was welcomed in.
And play they did. For years.
They were in each other’s house so much that you hardly thought of it. One night, the two were at our dinner table, the next they were across the street.
Girl Scouts, softball, dance. Each Christmas season we still put out the photo showing the two of them on Santa’s lap. I think they were 6. Indelibly etched into our memories are the Halloween nights. The tour of the neighborhood, ending with our inspection of the candy poured out on the living room floor, trading always a ritual.
They went to different high schools, but stayed in close touch. For college, their family move out of the neighborhood and other life stuff created a space. There was no rift, just different paths. It had been a few years now that they hadn’t hooked up.
It came time for dinner and of course she stayed and the five of us, including my daughter’s boyfriend, sat for an hour.
The laughter intensified.
They performed routines from their made-up sing-alongs to Aly and AJ, Miley Cyrus and Hilary Duff. I was quite entertained, and marveled at the remembered precision. Honestly, I had never seen the act. I’m told it all went down in each other’s bedrooms and basements.
They are real adults now, professionals, one a parent. And in this moment, they were children again, showing part of a life that this dad never knew. I was just working. Mom knew a lot more, but she too experienced many of the routines and stories for the first time.
They promised to restart a new phase and committed to rebuild with a new chapter of their friendship.
While they were having a ball, I was having a moment of peace and joy, reflecting over how profound it all is. As parents, we try to do the right things, struggle for the legal tender, and create a safe place for our kids, and then they write their own story.
Seeing them together so blissfully reconnected to a two-decade history reminded me of two things: God is good, and the life cycle is beautiful.
Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC.