Sunday, May 1, 2016

Letter to a Friend

Dear Lois,

We celebrated Cadence's baptism today.

It was a glorious day! My tomboy twirled around in her glittery, white tulle dress and bejeweled sandals.  She eased into the waters of baptism beside her aunt confident and assured of the decision she had made. She sat still and quiet as she listened to June pray words of confirmation.

I've thought a lot about you in the past few months. I've stopped sitting in "our row" at church. I felt your absence too acutely sitting alone after you died, so I have new "pew buddies" on Sundays.

I've thought about how you used to tell me that I was strong. You repeated it again and again. I admit that at the time, I thought it was a hallmark of aging. I appreciated your faith in me then, but not like I do now. You recorded a message on my heart and mind that I could access later when I needed it.

My, have I needed those words in the past year. I have summoned strength I didn't know I had, and then remembered your words. I have thought about where I am today, what it has taken for me to get here, and how much I wish you were here to witness it.

And then...

Cadence's special church buddy, Barb, presented a gift to her and said it was from Lois. I didn't catch the entire conversation, so I was a little behind.  Cadence tore the yellow tissue paper away and held in her hands a ceramic dish with a lid. She lifted the lid and inside there was a note that read, "I am so proud of you. Love, Lois."

Lois, this gift undid me. Cadence loved it, but I took it in like nourishment. To think that you had thought of this day long before it came and that you wouldn't be here to see it.  Thank you for planning ahead.

I wept and wept, and my friends held me and cried with me.  Through this gift you reminded me that loved ones aren't really as far away as it feels when death separates us. I cried as I felt your love in a way I haven't felt since we used to sit and sing harmony together, and tremble with stifled church giggles all those years ago. I knew you loved us then, but oh gosh, that little porcelain dish and note made the love come rushing back.

I think about how much Cadence, the nine-year-old, would delight you. She is wicked funny, whip smart, and has a huge, compassionate heart. She loves life and people. She loves her friends and family with a fierceness that sometimes takes away my breath. She loves Cardinals baseball, playing softball and applying makeup.

Thank you for loving her before you even knew her. And for loving me as I mothered her.

There are no words for how thankful I am for your friendship then and your gift today. Your thoughtfulness made my day.

I love you more than words can express.