|Amber, Me, Gina, Jan. 2010|
Friends are very important in my life. I did not grow up near extended family, so friends played a crucial role in my childhood. I spent a great deal of time with my mom and her friends and I learned much about friendship and the better nature of women from watching them. I still have friends from elementary school with whom I exchange Christmas cards, birth announcements, etc..and I've enjoyed reconnecting with "old" friends on Facebook. I love my friends, old and new. September has been an emotional and eventful one for our family. I have been overwhelmed by the support, encouragement, and love that has been given to us by our friends, near and far, so I am a tad sentimental right now! For my birthday this year, two of my friends visited me, over two weekends, and helped make this a special time for me. Let me share a little about these two special women.
LOVE & KNITTED
When I was in eighth grade, a new girl arrived on the scene. We didn't get many new students, so when they did arrive they were more than noticed. Beautiful long hair, very quiet, always with a big Esprit bag and a Bible. It wasn't until the following year that I would find myself seated beside her in Coach Cox's ninth grade World Geography class and a friendship began. It wasn't until eleventh grade that we would become almost inseparable.
We were wild girls, staying up until the wee morning hours, drinking Dr. Pepper out of the opposite side of the cup, playing badminton under the dusk/dawn light, and listening to Jerry Lee Lewis and Patsy Cline. Wild, I tell you! My mother told me once that she was glad I had Regina to talk to, since she knew I wouldn't always want to tell her everything. Anyone who knew my mom knew that was high praise.
The summer before my senior year, we moved. I went from a class of about 80 to a class of over 300. I had attended the same school from kindergarten to eleventh grade. Regina and I wrote to each other every week and called each other often. We both made trips to visit and we managed to each attend the other's graduation. We attended different colleges, but through it all, our friendship only grew stronger. Then came jobs, weddings, children, and through it all, the friendship grew. We actually don't even think of ourselves as friends, but sisters. Our children call each other cousins and we all think of ourselves as family. I am the only person who calls her Gina Marie, even though her middle name is not Marie. With her dark eyes and hair, she just always looked like a Gina Marie to me!
God has always been central to our friendship. Regina gave me my first bible--a black hard-cover King James version someone had left at her house. I would attend church services and special programs with her, including drama skits or musical programs in which she played a role. There are many times at mass, when I am kneeling after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, that I picture Regina after an Easter cantata, tears streaming down her face, saying, "I just wish I could have been there with Him."
When I first told Regina about this fellow teacher at my new school, who seemed to be interested in me, I told her there was only one problem. "What's that?" she asked.
"Well," I answered, "I think he might be Catholic."
She started laughing so hard and so loud that she had to move the phone away. When she had regained her composure, she said, "He's a (insert unmistakably Acadian surname here) from New Iberia, and you think he MIGHT be Catholic?! Anyway, what's wrong with that?"
It was with no small degree of incredulity that I answered, "What do you MEAN, what's wrong with that?"
"Terri, my mom and I have always thought we could see you as a Catholic." Well, I was perfectly horrified and a little worried about Regina, who was hanging around with a lot of those Catholics in Lafayette.
A little over a year later, she would be in the pew at the Easter Vigil Mass as I was welcomed into the Catholic Church and received the rites of Baptism, Confirmation, and first Holy Eucharist. I would not find out until much later that she left her Baptist church because they were horrified that she was happy about my conversion and they began praying for the "lost souls of Catholics" at their services. Four years later, it would be the birth of her first child that would spark my second conversion, my reversion, where I delved deep into Catholic teaching and actually fully accepted the Church's teaching in my life. I would share the journey with her, in long phone conversations and e-mails.
|Aunt Terri and Morgan, May 2001|
She would be my Maid of Honor at my wedding; I would fulfill the same role at hers. I would hold her first-born as soon as I could get there and she would do the same with mine. She would travel for the baptisms of my first two children and she would hold my first-born in the hospital chapel as my mother's heart beat for its last time. A phone call or long e-mail is just what we need sometimes to get through a rough day and we have husbands who stand in awe of our friendship and regard it with reverence, even when they don't always fully understand it!
And just as we began in eleventh grade, we still sign our letters, "Love and knitted," from the Old Testament story of David and Jonathan, whose friendship was described as if there souls had been knitted together. And she is a constant thread in the tapestry of my life, and now, in the life of my family. This is my friend and sister, Regina (Gina Marie). Thanks be to God for her love and friendship!
ONCE IS RARE, BUT TWICE?
When I moved right before my senior year of high school, I knew no one at my new school. I carried every book in my backpack for almost the whole first semester, because I wasn't sure where my locker was. Then, one day in my Fine Arts survey class, I struck up a conversation with a sweet, quiet girl with long hair. Really, you don't have to have long hair to be my friend! Amber and I would become fast friends and she would help me finally find my locker, so I only carried the books I actually needed to class. We both loved to read and loved everything that was romantic and old-fashioned. We would spend lunch making up our own lyrics to popular songs or pouring over pattern books in the library. Amber was the smartest person I'd ever met, next to my father. Even better than that, she was genuinely humble about her gifts. She could sew and made clothing that did not look handmade and she made bread from scratch! I was a little in awe.
Amber gave me my first bible that was my own, with my name on the cover. It was a dusty rose New American translation and I marked pages with a bookmark she cross-stitched for me. She was there on my wedding day, when I lost my mom and my dad, and she held all my babies within two weeks of their births. She stayed up all night helping me cook for C's baptism reception and she hobbled around for Thomas' baptism, just a week after knee surgery. I used to talk to my mom almost every day. When she died, it became Amber I talked to almost as often. It's Amber who Joey and I both seek for financial advice and I can't count how many times I've called her with food safety questions! This is my friend and sister, Amber. Again, thanks be to God!
|Aunt Amber Blankets...She has made one for each child and the girls don't like to sleep without theirs.|