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My Friend J

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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: My Friend J

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Friend J

Updating to say... No one dies at the end of this post! Thanks for your concern!

The college I attended in the Florida panhandle instituted a "Campus Parents" program for freshmen. Being assigned to a couple of single ladies who roomed together near campus, we didn't have quite the same experience as those assigned to actual families. Still, the program was a huge blessing to me. I heard from our campus mom just a couple weeks into the first semester. She invited me to their home with the other girls assigned to them. I asked who the others were. One was a girl just a couple rooms down from me. She was nice, part of our prayer group (assigned by room) and in my nursing classes (I have no recollection of her name). The other was J. She gave me her room number and told me when she'd pick us all up. J's room was on my floor, just down the other hall. I headed down to introduce myself.

"Come in," I heard after knocking at the door. Opening the door I saw several girls. A couple sat at the desk and another was on the phone. I looked to the girls at the desk. "J?" They pointed to the blond haired girl on the phone. Wouldn't you know it... she was talking to our campus mom. After a moment she was hanging up... I introduced myself, we chatted a minute and I was on my way. Another week later we were all meeting up in the lobby where our campus mom would pick us up. I had mentioned to J that my birthday was the same day we were all getting together, and when I got down to the lobby she waited with a card. Not only that, but a card with chocolate in it. That was a special treat.

From then on it was decided it seemed... we were friends. Over the next four years we would be there for one another as we dated guys, struggled in classes, missed parents, and a slew of other bonding details. I remember watching J draw or stipple for art class, laughing like silly girls about whatever there was to laugh about, encouraging one another with what the Lord was teaching us, and her crawling up in my lap (she's a little more petite than I) when she missed her daddy.

She called me at home during the Christmas break of our senior year with big news. She was engaged to E. So exciting. I went out almost that same day to buy fabric for the quilt I would make them. I picked yellow and white and green squares, as well as greens and yellows for the daffodil applique I added to the white squares. I worked the applique mostly on Saturday mornings in the library's media lab where TVs were set up and a great collection of good-hearted movies I had never seen gave me a break from the academics of the week.

Toward the end of the year, I had the chance to throw her a bridal shower where I surprised her with the song I'd written for her wedding and then that summer, to sing it as she walked down the aisle.

After one year in Germany with the Air Force, J and E decided to move to Los Angeles (as they were still with the Air Force and had to pick somewhere) to be close to me. I was so excited. They were still 35-40 minutes away (or 2 hours... depending on traffic), but we could see each other way more often. They arrived with the news that J was pregnant with their first. We got together as often as possible, always playing games and telling stories, laughing harder than we had in weeks.

As the time for K to be born drew closer, I told them to call me the minute they were in labor and I would be in the car. I needed to know immediately to make it through traffic... especially if it all happened during rush hour, and especially because the hospital was another 20ish minutes away. They took me on a tour of the hospital with them the month or so before their due date, so I knew where I was going. Then the call came... around 11pm on the 25th of March. I had talked to them not too long before... just checking in. When the phone rang, I knew what was coming and I was off for the hospital. There was still a decent amount of traffic, but the Lord went before me as cars seemed to move out of my path like the waters of the Red Sea parting before Moses. I arrived to the hospital to find them still in the waiting room. I had made it clear that I didn't need to be in with them and that I would wait in the waiting room all night. I just wanted to be there. As J was changing into her hospital gown, E told me they wanted me to stay... if I wanted to. Did I ever. What a joy it was to be there, not only to see, but to help.

I had the opportunity to be there for the birth of their son a couple years later too, before they moved to Ohio... a long way from me. I was sad to see them go, but knew that I myself was leaving the following year and it wouldn't matter much. Before I knew it I'd fallen in love with My Beloved and was in PA... not far (ok... 7 hours) from J and E and their kids. We were able to travel (My Beloved and I) to see them one of the times I was here that Fall before we were married (I met My Beloved's parents that weekend too as they were only a few hours from there.) J took our engagement pictures... what a treat. We had such a great time with them... and they got to meet My Beloved.

I had asked J to be my matron of honor in our LA wedding, but hadn't heard an answer yet. I was hoping K would be our flower girl too. During that weekend E took me aside and had some questions for me. He wanted to make sure this wedding was a good idea before his wife and daughter were part of it. Apparently I answered all his questions and calmed his heart about the whole thing. I have often appreciated the time and forethought he put into it. I was very blessed in those years they lived close to have him watching out for me.

I was blessed to have both J and K in our wedding. J did so much the weekend of our wedding that I really didn't get to spend any time with her. She ran errands, put our bouquets together late into the night, got up early to decorate the reception, gave a short devotional for my bridal party before the ceremony, and took care of lots of little details to get us out of the reception on time. I cherish the pictures I have of her that weekend, because they are memories of her serving us where we don't have memories actually being together. Her wedding gift is a drawing she did from one of our engagement pictures that still hangs over our bed, beautifully framed. I love it still!

In the years I've lived here, we've had a handful of opportunities to travel to Ohio to be with their family, as well as a couple Thanksgivings where they came here. Last Fall we were sad when the time came for them to go home to Oregon (done in the Air Force). No more, quick, 7 hours away weekends for us (not that any 7 hour trip is quick with kids... therefore we really hadn't done many recently.)

They've been gone almost a year now and we have struggled, between time differences, kids, and their various living situations before securing a home recently, to be in touch regularly. Though we miss each other, it really doesn't matter. We always pick right back up where we left off. Just a week or so ago we had a chance to talk (for a couple hours... nearly impossible with her 3 and my 2 kids.) It was great catching up. She was almost due with her 4th, and my kids were growing so much. I even got to talk to K... so big now!

Last night, My Beloved and I were settled into the couch watching a program when the phone rang. It was J... and she had news! A little boy was born (possibly D, but we'll see) yesterday morning at 2:52 am.

Congratulations J and E... and K and J and L. I just wish I was there!



At October 10, 2008 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

While I am excited for your friend J, this was the worst post ever... the way you kept talking about her I thought for sure you were going to give us sad news at the end! The suspense nearly killed me. :) Really though, it was nice to see the good news and maybe I won't be so cynical next time. :)

At October 10, 2008 at 1:39 PM , Blogger ~Babychaser~ said...

I do have to apologize... as I was wrapping up the post (just before getting to the news part) I started thinking that is sounded like I was going to tell you all that she died. Wasn't my intention. :) Just wanted to honor my friend. Sorry to cause your heart grief!

Thanks for commenting though. Made me smile. :)

At October 10, 2008 at 1:40 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I was kidding... it really wasn't the worst. :)


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