“AUGH!” I sighed into the dim light, speaking to no one in particular as I kicked a pair of pink flats across the room and stumbled over what appeared to be two years of laundry. Strategically avoiding the situation as usual, I hopped on to our unmade bed and logged on to Instant Messenger. Here, I was immediately greeted by my dear friend and colleague, Sarah, who already had a deep understanding of my Pisces-laden, procrastinating nature and wasn’t afraid to call me on it. Eager to hear the hot gossip or enter into my daily rant (way better than domestication), we began to chat back and forth:
Sarah: Hey lady
Me: How are you???
Sarah: Good! What are you up to?
Me: Pulling a “grinch” and staring into the abyss that has become my house.
Sarah: Let’s set a date – I’ll come over to help.
Me: *contemplates if she means it and ponders if you can really accept that level of help from friends; factor in embarrassment level and arrive at “who the heck cares I need some help” stage
Me: Are you serious?! Who does that?
Sarah: Me! Just think of it as a favor to a gal that will someday need help and isn’t currently nearly eight months pregnant.
Me: Well….ok! Let’s do Friday – I’ll serve beer, ice cream and pizza.
Sarah: Deal! Make a list – I’ll want to see it advance; we’re going to tackle the hard stuff!
And so it began that Sarah came to grips with the dark side of Team Choate’s household, complete with its immeasurable stacks of laundry, sinks overflowing with dishes and enough dog hair to create at least four Yorkshire Terriers.
Days prior to the event, she began to assess the debacle she was really getting into, asking questions like: “do you own a broom? Do I need to bring basic cleaning supplies? What about a vacuum?” Laughing to myself but realizing the darling wasn’t too far off, I made a list of what was eating at my soul the most and decided then and there I’d let this non-judgmental, ever-so-helpful, rare friend into the jungle. Soon, Friday was upon us and I braced myself for whatever feedback, instructions or facial expressions she may throw my way. With a pizza on the way, beer for her and indulgent soda for me and baby, I waited cautiously for the doorbell to ring and the madness to begin.
Thirty minutes later she was already perched in our master, combing the mess with her eyes and creating a manageable plan with hopes that both of us would survive. With primal instinct, Sarah tore through our closets and picked her way through more laundry than any one person should have to witness. Amid not-so-pleasant scents, stacks of emptied purse contents and what appeared to be thousands of shoes, she asked innocent questions, provided direction and together we tackled the beast. The animals stood near the doorway in curiosity watching the room transform into something similar to what they remembered just two years ago in their trek to Shawnee. I watched her in awe, more than once the overwhelming feeling of gratitude shooting like stars toward her for being such an incredible helper and friend. I thought about what it meant to have a person like that in one’s life and how selfless it is for others to give in this way. The gifts she was giving us were not wrapped in pretty blue paper or silver bows, but in elbow grease, patience and good ol’ fashioned work. It was the best gift I could ask for.
As the hours passed, the house began to take on the clutter-free transformation that had been holding us back from letting just anyone in the front door, from fully recovering from a tough day at work and for preparing for bringing our little guy home. The smell of dog hair and air fresheners was quickly replaced with actual cleanliness accented with Pledge, Windex and Tide. Dishes that lined the desk were quickly whisked back to the kitchen, dog toys tucked in their basket, laundry folded and put neatly in organized piles where they belonged. Two gigantic trash bags were promptly filled with more towels than any two people should own and shoved into Sarah’s car with the promise to tackle them over the weekend in her own home, despite her personally busy life. And suddenly, I was left with a home…an actual home that could appropriately be cared for and loved, despite the fact it wasn’t our dream home in Prairie Village. It took on a whole new meaning and a sense of responsibility and warmth filled my soul, reminding me that this is what it meant to truly take care of yourself and your family.
As she packed to go, warm tears filled the corner of my tired eyes and my limbs grew numb with thankfulness and relief. Not missing a beat, Sarah gathered her things as if he past five hours had been nothing at all, though she had given up a weekend night, time away from her “babies” and home. I tried awkwardly to make sense of the feelings in my heart for all she had done, yet none of the sentiments came. Though the following week we swapped towels for flowers and a thank you note, I’m not sure she’ll ever realize what a difference she made by selflessly donating her time to help a sister out.
I’m happy to report it’s been nearly a month and not once have any of Team Choate’s clothes littered the floor like the horrible habit we had once formed. Instead, only one to two loads are packed tightly in our closet and managed on our newly designated laundry days. Chairs in our room are now available for reading and writing thank yous or for Sully to crawl into when he’s feeling adventurous. And walking into our home means just that…coming home. What could be better than that?
Thank you, dear Sarah, for giving of yourself and the difference you make. You truly are a star. We love you!