By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published October 4, 2018
It’s nearly three o’clock, so I jump in the car and head over to the nearby school. Somehow, although I never had children of my own, I’m now waiting with women decades younger than me to pick up Lucy, my friends’ daughter, whom I love dearly.
Some days we come back to my house, where she plays with Fuzzy, my orange tomcat. He is quite patient when she gathers up his stuffed mice, a pickle and a lobster and arranges them on his back.
It seems he understands the sweet nothings she whispers to him, since she has a special bond with him. She caresses his paws, strokes his ears, and when he decides he’s had enough and walks away, she protests, “Come back, Fuzzy! I love you so much!”
In his tales about Narnia, C.S. Lewis named one of the characters Lucy—and like the real-life Lucy, the fictional one is the youngest of four children. She’s also first to arrive in Narnia, the magical kingdom, where she’s invited to tea by Mr. Tumnus the faun.
The fictional Lucy is quite intuitive when it comes to noticing other people’s moods. When Mr. Tumnus—who had planned to kidnap her but abandoned the plan—starts crying, she embraces him and tries to comfort him.
My real-life Lucy doesn’t miss the smallest detail when it comes to detecting other people’s emotions. If she sees the smallest tear glinting in my eye when I walk up for holy Communion, she’ll give me an especially fervent hug after Mass.
Ecclesiastes has a lovely description of friendship: “Two are better than one, for if one falls down, the other can help him up.”
When we’re together, it feels like a friendship, despite the years that separate us. We both dote on hamsters and enjoy feeding Mrs. Squirrel and Chippie, the twosome that shows up for handouts on my porch.
She’s been particularly attentive since the death of my husband, whom she loved dearly—and through her compassion and humor, she’s lifted my spirits countless times.
When she was 11, Lucy wrote in a handmade birthday card, “I know you never had kids but consider me your kid. I love you and I always will.”
And on my husband’s birthday, she wrote, “Through the past years many tears have been shed. But we must not forget God is with us and will never leave our side!”
When I go to the church hall for doughnuts with her and her parents after Mass, she sometimes entertains us by using straws to create her version of a walrus. She’s also launched a new game in my living room, which entails zooming down the hall in my desk chair and tossing a ball into a nearby shoe.
Of course, at some point she’ll grow up and cross the boundary that separates the magical kingdom of childhood, where one can have tea with a faun and talk to a cat, into the staid and serious realm of adulthood.
Still, I pray we can always meet in a place where boundaries dissolve and God’s grace shines through—in the eternal heart of friendship.
Artwork (“Lucy and the Spell Book” by Jef Murray). Lorraine’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.