I’m in Saint Leu, a small beach town on the west coast of Reunion island. My friends are treating us to a weekend in an oceanfront villa. The sun is shining. Palms trees sway in the gentle breeze, bright green against the cloudless sky. A sliver of white moon winks at me. A golden dragonfly circles above the swimming pool where the kids are busy diving and practicing backwards rolls, their jabbering muffled only by the soft hum of the waves.
I feel great. I am relaxed; happy; content.
The world is beautiful and so is my life.
There is no denying that evil exists but I choose to believe that goodness prevails. The love that pours into my life is proof of that. I am surrounded by kindness.
The kindness of my husband who has made my happiness his life mission; who always gives me the benefit of the doubt; whose patience and understanding have been the balms that healed the pain of my past and allowed me to grow and flourish.
The kindness of my friends.
Babeth, whom I’ve known since Kindergarten. We shared the same playgrounds in elementary, middle and high school. We lived in the same town of southern France after college. We invented dictionary games, which officially earned us the status of nerds. Years later, there are now husbands and children and we are still at home with each other. She’s opened up her house and her life to my family. As we sip tea late at night and talk about childbirth and breastfeeding, we see a glimpse of the dimpled six year olds who chose each other a long long time ago and the 41 one year old versions of ourselves still love and respect one another so much. I admire the mother she has become. I appreciate her patience and laid back attitude. I like myself better when we are together.
Sandrine, whom I met 20 years ago when I signed up for a martial arts class at the local university. An unlikely friendship between the shy tomboy she was and the extraverted weather girl who showed up for a sparring session in black jogging pants, an orange halter top and high heels. We’ve danced many a night away to the beat of the DJ’s tunes; we’ve had many a deep conversation, standing side by side, leaning against her car and gazing at the milky way. We’ve written each other letters; we’ve texted, called, e-mailed, Skyped and now we Whatsapp. We’ve flown across oceans to be together. We can debate, disagree and challenge one another in harmony. I am grateful for the mirror she holds: in her eyes, I see a reflection of the best of myself.
There are many more here in the country I was born and raised: Ingrid from 11th grade. Thierry from my first year at the TV station. Gilles, my benevolent mentor and co-worker.
The kindness of my friends’ spouses who’ve opened up their hearts and bank accounts and have always made me feel welcome; who have joined in our deep conversations; who have spared no efforts in time, energy and resources to accept me as their friend too.
The kindness of strangers.
The merchant at the farmers market who gave me an extra bag for the food I had bought elsewhere.
The restaurant owner who went out of her way to make a special dish for my vegetarian daughter.
The bakery teller who put an extra chocolate croissant in the bag just because.
As I finish writing this, the sun still shines brightly. The dragonfly still goes in circles with no apparent destination. A family of Paille-en-queue flies high above the coconuts and a white butterfly flutters by carelessly.
The kids are still in the pool playing, their squeals of delight now drowned by the loud whirring of jet skis skipping the waves nearby.
My heart is full.
Life is good.