"oh my Lord
why's it taking you so long
to give me grace
and the dignity to right these wrongs"
- Jonatha Brooke, 'Deny' (bonus track from _Steady Pull_, 2001)

It's a chorus, really; voices in my head taking on the voices of two particular friends, taking their words, doubling, tripling them until the sounds of their voices drown out my own.

It's been a long, long week. Week and a half, more like, according to my watch, which says it's going to be Wednesday before I manage two more paragraphs at tonight's snail-ish rate.This site has been silent during the past week and a half, to respect the privacy of two of my friends. I love both of them dearly, fiercely; I don't know any other way. I've spent most of my waking time in the past week and a half watching their friendship literally disintegrate before my eyes; devastation, hurt, and anger made flesh.

I've cried. I've lost sleep. I've talked until I'm blue in the face, and finally, now, I find myself sitting in an empty, paint-fumed house singing back to Stevie Wonder, scratching out thoughts in a text window.

I don't know how to accept that I can't help those I care about when they so obviously need - someone, something. Comfort. Grace. Peace. The friendship that is, for now, lost.

* * * * *

I am in Atlanta, and have been since Friday night. Saturday night's costume lies in my car, wrinkled and in need of a wash...rather like the rest of me. Jeff rode back to Huntsville with a friend, and I stayed in Atlanta with the car, and headed to Jody's to help paint his house.

It's a surprise, see. Kari, his wife, picked out colors for the main floor of their house, and I agreed to come stay with Jody for a few days to effect the transformation while Kari was out of state on a business trip.

I didn't bargain on painting to be a meditative exercise on the futility of trying to make things right. Since Monday morning I have slapped paint up on walls with a vengeance that frightens me, leaves me exhausted at the end of the day, but has not yet slowed the chatter-clack of my thoughts.

The truth is that I'm angry at myself; angry because I understand that the ideas of parallel and intersection are not just mathematical concepts. They are easily demonstrated in a three-dimensional, emotional world, often with devastating results. I knew two months ago when these friends left parallel, aiming slowly for each other, aiming for a confrontation that was as certain as it was going to be horrific.

I'm angry not because I did nothing, but because I did not do enough. I had opportunities to try to correct what might (or might not) have been inevitable, to steer them away from each other. At the time I voiced my concerns as openly as I thought was appropriate, but I look back now and question my conduct. I wonder if but for a few conversations of brutal honesty, perhaps some of this devastation could have been avoided.


I've wanted to shoot them and to comfort them, and that's just today.

* * * * *

The entranceway is done; all that remains is to cut the tape down tomorrow and that section of the job is finished. As soon as I write this entry, I will head upstairs to apply what I pray is the last coat of red paint necessary to complete the dining room.

Red paint is translucent, not opaque. Reaching the intended final result requires time, patience, and multiple layers. The first layer goes on pink, with each additional layer slowly blending away lap marks and deepening the accumulated color toward the intended result.

There's a moral in this somewhere, a moral about friendships and healing taking time and patience, and how standing on ladders and whacking myself with a red-laden paintbrush is supposed to make me see that connection.

I'd be a liar if I said anything but this: I want off the ladder, I want the paint out of my hair, and while I realize that, short of comfort and friendship, there is nothing I can do for my friends, I want some way to make that right, too.

Time wields that paintbrush. Not me.