She was a friend of a friend. We met at a Maid House college party and bonded over our hatred of the Yankees, rooting together for the Diamondbacks to take the World Series. She was a junior in college. I was pregnant with our first child. We’d run into each other every now and then over the next year. Ash was the first baby she ever held, it was at a Crusade meeting, and she was scared out of her mind. Again at a friend’s bridal shower, she took the plunge and held him. Her fears eventually subsided, and she decided she liked this kid. Not long after graduation, she joined us working with the youth leadership at our church. My role was to mentor the women leaders, she joined my Bible study, and our strange friendship began.
She is my polar opposite. Everything about us is different. Our taste in music, movies, and fashion are at completely different ends of the spectrum. I am a southerner. She is a northerner. I am a girly-girl who likes to play sports. She is total tomboy who likes to get dressed up now and then. I am conservative. She is liberal. I share my heart easily. She struggles to open up. Everything for her is “wicked”, everything for me is, “oh my stars”. I am type-A, she is type-B. She is Greek, I am Italian.
She has given her time and her energy to the youth in our church in ways that put me to shame. She is one of the few leaders that jumps right in. Loud and energetic, she finds the ones that aren’t always easy to get to know and reaches out to them. She never just sat in the back and didn’t engage; instead she joined the students where they were. She has pursued kids that she knew were having struggles, and she didn’t back down when they pushed her away. Leading early morning Bible studies (and she is no morning person, trust me!) for years, one-on-one times with her girls, meeting new girls for ice cream, making things happen, she has been committed to our youth group, and lives have been changed because of her. I have watched her, listened to her, prayed with her, and grown because of her.
Beyond youth group, we became good friends, as she would stop by the house and hang out with me during the days, teasing me because of my monthly meal plans, and inviting herself over every time I served Stuffed Peppers. She loves my children, and has become one of my boys’ favorites, taking them to Chick-fil-A, and letting them play before they eat. “You don’t do that, Mommy!” She was one of my first phone calls when we found out we had a girl, and she threw my all pink baby shower, stepping out of her comfort zone to make my day a perfect memory. When I got my diagnosis and underwent surgery, she was stuck at home in the north, working her summer job. (A job which takes a discipline and diligence that amazes me.) As soon as she could, she drove 10 hours to spend 2 days with me, providing dinner for us, taking me to get a pedicure, and sitting with me crying together in her car. Coffee dates, lunches at Dave’s, game nights, long talks late into the night, time well spent.
We’ve walked through some hard times together, and I’ve learned her language. I’ve sat and challenged her when she’s come to me with life questions. She’s struggled with knowing where God wants her and who God wants her to be. We have our differences and our disagreements, but we’ve always been able to be real with each other. True friendship. And as she’s struggled with her place in life, I’ve recently walked with her through the roller coaster decision she’s made to move. Summer at home working, then off to culinary school. I’m proud of her.
Last week we said good-bye. Last week I cried. A lot. B and I headed over to her place one evening and I watched as a group of us packed her truck. Memories piled in boxes. Life packed up. New beginnings ahead. A small group of us went to Dave’s for supper. Her favorite place to eat. We waited for 45 minutes. Sat down and had so much fun together. We laughed and reminisced. We sat around that table for 3 hours. I watched her hug each friend good-bye, and my heart ached. It was good to be together. It is hard to say good-bye.
Seven years. Two very different people with two very different lives. How we became friends is something that only God knows, but He knew that somehow, we needed each other.
I could write pages more, but instead I’ll keep my memories in a special place in my heart. In her immortal words, “I’m all set, thanks.”
Won’t you pray for my friend, Kristen, as she begins a new phase in her life?