Some friends are from High School. That long ago place filled with football games, broken hearts and just trying life on for size. I still have Patti, Roxane, Heidi, Craig and Judi in my life and it makes me feel young to see them and talk about Three Dog Night, Cheech and Chong and Rare Earth and that silly boy who dumped me.
Some friends are from college....I am still in contact with them. Bonnie, and Becky, Debbie, Charron and Sue. They are no further than my Facebook page. A reminder of a time in my life that had huge changes, big risks and more broken hearts.
Some friends from my single days of staying up too late and dating all the wrong men - Wendy kept me from drowning in my own bad ideas. Some friends are from my casino days....Cindy and Janice....and my precious Amy. All of them still there.
Then my friends who we raised small children with....Jane and Stef who never made me feel silly when I cried at my Ashleigh's last day of kindergarten, or yet another miscarriage. Or just the sometimes overwhelming job of raising children.
There there were my football mom days with Denise, my cheer mom days with Nikki.....
Ten years ago I had a great birthday party, all my besties were there...and if I was having another birthday party right now, every single one of them would be there again. Except for Claudine...she passed away a few years ago.
I am friends with all of these women for a million different reasons, but we all have one thing in common. We needed each other, and we were there for each other.
I have done a lot of volunteer work over the last 40 years, some it in PTA, some in the community, and most of it at church. The work at church has been the most meaningful because it has been hard work, but it is also the most rewarding. To simply get lost in helping other people. I will never forget putting in a backyard with 15 other people for a family with little children who had no place to play. The endless meals taken to families that were sick. Visiting women who just needed a hug and someone to tell them they could do it. Driving people to the doctor, the dentist and one time a therapist. Driving to the hospital at 2am to comfort a woman afraid she was going to die. Then there was going with a car full of women to clean someone's home that had been so ill and just couldn't. Organizing all the food for the family dinner after a funeral. Holding a friend who had just lost her baby, hugging a friend who had just had a baby......sitting up all night with a woman abandoned by a husband. Giving encouragement to a friend as she sat outside a jail right before she went in to see her son. Comforting a friend as yet another adoption promise is broken, and then months later, joyfully holding her newborn when finally an adoption promise is kept. Sitting on the curb waiting for a friend to come home after hearing her grown son had drowned saving someone else's son.
It is during those kind of times that friendships are forged forever.
But then sometimes the unthinkable happens and they move away. It truly hurts your heart doesn't it? Facebook is wonderful but it is just Facebook.
One of those friends is moving away right now, in fact just in a few weeks. I knew it was always a possibility, her husband's job was eventually going to take them to a faraway place...I knew that, but I chose to never think about it. I am, after all, Scarlett O'hara at heart.
So when I found out she was moving I wanted to give her something, but what? What would mean the most?
This is what I came up with......I am giving her books. And not just any books, but the books that meant the most to me. The books that change our lives.....they aren't the greatest books ever written, but the ones with the greatest memories for me. These books answered some of my life questions....and if you know me, you know I have lots of life questions. And some of these books just opened doors for the first time.
The first book is called "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. I read it when I was 13...I loved it then and I love it now. For a girl who grew up in Texas reading about a family in Brooklyn was exotic and exciting. I still remember the feeling I had when I finished....sadness. Sadness that such an incredible reading experience was over and I would never read that book for the first time again.
The second book is a Book of Mormon, not the play, the actual book. It changed my life....
The next book is called "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. My friend Amy gave it to me and I read it often. Four little sentences to live by, written by a man who came from a family of healers. They are simple yet profound....
1. Be Impeccable with your word
2. Don't take anything personally
3. Don't make assumptions
4. Always do your best
The fourth book is called "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". It started a journey of forgiveness for me and my mother after reading that book. It is just a fun book about all the ups and downs of a real southern family. But it deeply impacted me.
Then the last 2 books are more symbolic...one is about Grace. I wanted to give her this book because we are so awful with Grace. We keep trying to do it all, to figure it all out, to carry the whole burden alone. When we never, ever have to. Whatever source of power you believe in will help you with all the problems of life, all the disappointments....you never have to go it alone, or be alone. And then the last book is called a Heart like His by Virginia Pearce. It is a book about feeling God's love. It is a religious book, but it transcends....it is only about love. No matter what kind of larger power you believe in this book is designed to just make you feel love. And love always wins.
It might seem silly to do this....but I wanted to give her something that would transcend a simple gift of a picture frame or a candle. This comes from my heart to a friend who served with me in some of my hardest times. The only question she ever asked was, "what can I do? I don't feel like I am doing enough." She was so much more than a wise counselor. She never stopped giving, never stopped trying and always, always had a smile.
I know you are going to think this picture was stolen out of Vogue, or Town and Country, but it is a real picture of Katherine and her 3 adorable children.....That's Ellie and Reese and Ashlyn with Katherine. Just a picture of the girls as a gift for her sweet husband, Jason, taken by our talented and amazing friend Autumn Mohlman.
If you are looking, life has the most amazing blessings to give you....but you have to look. Take pictures with your heart.
And I will not say goodbye.......