Early in my teens, I remember feeling a keen loneliness. All my childhood friends seemed to have drifted off in other directions, and no one I knew was just like me. I found a rebellious sense of identity in the fact that I was so different from everyone else I knew; and in the fact that they didn’t like me (at least, so I felt). I didn’t want to be like them. But I didn’t want to reach out and connect over what seemed like the chasm of that difference, either. What I wanted was a friend– badly– who was going down the same road I was, who thought like me and lived like me. She never materialized, and I learned, firstly… and then again, and again still… that God is enough. With maturity came the realization that difference wasn’t a threat, but rather an opportunity to bounce up against something new and learn. I revelled in the friends I was making, of all ages… none of whom were just like me. Some childhood friendships, battered and frost-bitten by the cold snap in my teenage years, began to reemerge as something new and beautiful. A precious few girls cropped up, some old friends, some new, who were young and single and lovers of God, and a special sort of camraderie entered my life, even though because of distance or schedules I rarely came face-to-face with them. I came to love knowing people, a tapestry of people, all of whom I had at least one thing in common with, even if that one thing was different in every case. And God worked some of those friendships into bonds as close as family.
It was one of those friendships that had me bawling like a baby, in the bathroom in the middle of a cleaning job last week. It just hit me.
I met Dani when we moved to a new church fellowship a few years ago. She was almost my age, the eldest of three, homeschooled and about to go off to college in Arkansas a year after high school graduation. I got a little aquainted with her, then she left. I mostly got to know her brothers that schoolyear (now my third and fourth brothers); on holidays and breaks she would come home, and we would have family suppers outside the travel trailer her family was living in. Spring break and summer, Dani and I took walks and talked and got to know each other. Then she decided to take a year off school, staying home and working. I was selfishly delighted. That year turned into one and a half, and we have made some wonderful memories and become truly dear friends. It is wonderful having such a friend, living close by and going to the same church.
Dani is going back to Arkansas in early January. Her family is moving to the coast, and the timing is just right for her to go back to school. She’ll finish her degree and probably live there summers as well. I can see it, too… the pieces are about to start falling into place. I hoped and prayed her going back for next semester would work out. And it has. And now she is going.
It makes me sad to think of how much I am going to miss her. I think that was part of it the other day. But most of all, I was overwhelmed with gratitude; this friendship isn’t necessary, I could live and breathe without it. But God, out of His bountiful love, handed me a friend, a true friend, in some ways one very like me… just to bless me. (And this is just one of several special friends, such as my dear Miss B, and Steph, who is about to come home after four years of college.) Just icing on the cake. And He does that, so often. So many times, He rains down blessings on my head that are just blessings.
So, in the oft-repeated words of another dear friend, We give God the glory! He is good, and He is so good to me.
And Dani… I’ll miss you.