He and I were walking down a carpeted hallway, making weekend talk. His upcoming barbeque, my work in the garden. Our friendship. Our comfort with each other.

The rising of the warm feeling was subtle. Soft embers crept from my belly, up into my chest. Within those embers, an errant bit of fire found an unburned spot of fuel, creating gentle flames that tasted delicious. I welcomed the familiar old feeling of being alive and happy. My life was void of these dancing flames, replaced with those quiet embers. Awareness turned into wonder at how beautiful this moment was and how the feeling filled me with joy. 

But then another feeling surfaced: horror. I snapped back into reality. My friend was still talking. I stopped him, explained to him my confusing inner warmth. I was bewildered and terrified. My friend looked down at the faded orange and brown carpet, and then back at me. He had felt the same. The pleasure of the moment dulled as we walked to the parking lot, still making inconsequential remarks about families, weather.

As my husband turned the car in the direction of our home, I told him. I was chagrined, mystified that those feelings had burned for a short but significant moment. That was the last time I spoke or wrote to my friend. It was my decision and my choice. I grieved the loss of a confidante in my journey. 

He meanders into my mind still today, bringing the baggage of shame and fondness. I can’t deny the lesson earned, and neither can I reconcile my feelings, but the separation was necessary. I am at peace with that decision and grateful for the warmth of small flames, even for a moment.


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