"Wait, let me write that down," I said, as I jotted the words down in my little journal where I write all my favorite quotes and verses. "I love that."
Laura, one of my dearest and most treasured friends in the world, came to visit me that weekend all the way from Ole Miss. We had been so excited about the weekend for months.
We had met the summer before, working at a camp together and had been instant friends. You know the kind of friend who you just click with immediately? Like it almost feels like you were made to be friends... a kindred spirit, as I like to say.
After camp was over we talked on the phone regularly, updating each other on life, college, friends, boyfriends (Kristian and Dallis), recipes, life dreams, struggles... absolutely everything. She was the friend removed from my everyday life enough so that everything was safe with her.
After that great weekend when she came to Waco, we made more plans. I would go visit her in the summer at her family's home in Louisiana. She wanted her mom to make me her famous crawfish etouffee and for us to sit on the big white bench swing on her porch that overlooks a little pond. I was really looking forward to that.
Everyday Embrace God's Love
and Embrace Each Moment.
Here I sit, five and a half years later, and read this sweet and powerful quote from my little journal... still there on the page where I wrote it in that moment that seems somewhat like a dream now.
I did go visit her family in Louisiana. The visit came a little sooner than planned, just a few months shy of summer. I stood on her big southern porch and looked out onto the pond, and hated it. I hated it because I was there for her funeral. I didn't want to be looking at it without her.
She died almost exactly five months after we sat there on the floor of my room... killed by a drunk driver on her college campus.
The quote is just the tiniest glimpse into what Laura was really like. I know that those who have passed away are sometimes idealized a bit, and maybe their positive attributes are innocently exaggerated. Perhaps my memories of Laura are as such, but they are very real to me. This girl really was a treasure and I miss her. And I think it is undeniable how many others loved her and were touched by her life judging by the 700 letters and cards her family received after her death.
I went back again to her family's home the next fall to spend a weekend with her mom. She made her crawfish etouffee and we sat on the porch swing. It was lovely, but painful.
This week marks the fifth anniversary of that death. I pulled out my little "Laura box" tonight which holds all memories relating to her. There are pictures, the obituary, news articles, a pressed flower she gave me, memories that I've written down trying so hard not to forget.
There are many letters and emails that I've received over the past five years from her mom who is a treasured friend now too, a few little articles of her clothing, and her calligraphy set.
This box used to come out more often, but now it's usually just around the anniversary and her birthday. It's not as painful now, and this year might be the first time I haven't been choked up, though my stomach is in knots. I wish it didn't feel so distant, but I think that's how it goes. (I can't begin to relate to what her family still feels, and those who had known her for years. Their pain is much different than mine.)
But that time in my life, the time of knowing her and mourning her is something that has shaped me and I am so grateful.
As if the Lord was preparing her for what was coming, a few days before she died she wrote this in her journal,
" But oh, life does not end with this world. No, this is merely the introduction to a beautiful land. This is the intro which captures our attention and our hearts but leaves us in suspense with merely the faint whisper of the promise that everything will work out in the end, and heaven really will be a 'HAPPILY EVER AFTER...'"
...and it is so happily ever after. not in a cliche, fairytale way, but in the most true and real way imaginable!