Tea for Three
Tea is a cup of life.
’m going to invite another woman to your baby shower,” my friend Candace told me. “Youdon’t have anything in common with her, but she lives just down the block and is pregnant, too.”“Fine,” I said, curious about this woman I would have nothing in common with except pregnancy. That seemed like enough. Everyone else in the neighborhood was working, and thedays were lonely.Jenny came to the shower. She was about six months behind me in her pregnancy and alsolonely at home all day. After the shower, we agreed to meet for tea. For as long as I canremember, a cup of tea has been my comforter, picker-upper, and calmer-downer. Whatever the problem, a cup of tea will take the edge off and allow me to go on.My tea dates with Jenny became almost daily rituals as we got to know each other andfound out how much we did have in common. We each had two older children—a boy and agirl—besides the ones we were expecting. She was a graduate of the college I was attending part-time, and we were both English majors. That meant books were a favorite topic of conversation and sharing.For many years, Jenny remained my tea-drinking buddy. As our friendship continued to blossom, we developed many more similar interests—all shared over a cup of tea. The tea wesipped during our pregnancies with my daughter, Cathy, and her son, Corey, led to cups of teashared as we sat in the shade of the elm tree in my backyard while the kids played in the sandboxand wading pool. We enjoyed a cup under her weeping willow as they climbed into its branches.In the winter, cups of tea warmed us as we watched the kids sledding down our steep driveway.The two seemed to have as much in common as we did. They shared the middle name Dale,enjoyed each other’s birthday parties, completed art projects together, and helped each other withhomework as Jenny and I drank tea and shared our lives.When Cathy and Corey were ten, Jenny announced her husband’s job was taking their family to another state. With heavy hearts, we packed their belongings into our pickup andhelped them move.Later, we shared a last cup of tea in their new home, and I drove back to mine wonderingwhen, where, or how I would ever find another tea buddy. Everyone else I knew was workingfull-time and didn’t have the time for or interest in tea.Jenny and I kept in touch with letters—real letters on stationery, not e-mails or textmessages. We would sit down with a cup of tea to write the letter and then later make a cup of tea to drink as we read the letter we got back. It wasn’t as good as meeting in person, but it keptus connected through good times and bad—our daughters’ weddings, my breast cancer, her husband’s illness, Corey’s near death from a home-invasion shooting that left him paralyzed, andmy Cathy’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. I was grateful for the support I received from her, butI still longed for another woman on the other side of the teapot.Jenny had found a friend in her new community who shared tea with her. I was happy for her, but a little jealous. Then I moved to a new community, too. I met many nice people, but theyall drank coffee, and no one seemed to have the time or inclination to sit down and sip a leisurelycup of tea. One day after church, as everyone was sharing in coffee hour, I noticed a womanwiping off a dusty kettle, filling it with water, and setting it on the stove. I walked up to her.“I just felt like a cup of tea today,” she said. “Sometimes it hits the spot better than coffee.”“I know,” I said. “May I join you?”