Dear Friend…

“Miss,” he said as he sat in his seat, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Oh honey, you ain’t got time for that.”

“I mean, I know you got issues.  Like my dad has schizophrenia and he’s bipolar.  My mom’s super poor and got high blood pressure.  My auntie’s a drunk…” my sweet student pauses and says, “Are you autistic?”

“Nah.  Not autistic.  Not that I know of anyway.  But you know I deal with other things.”  I’ve been honest with my students before.  I can’t expect them to work on themselves if I’m not willing to better myself.

“The way I think is that everybody’s got some shit.”

And my super intellectual kiddo is so right.

I sat down at my computer to write my friend a letter.  I’ve been thinking about this friend a lot lately.  Sometimes I stay up too late thinking about how I can help (ie overanalyzing what I would do in that situation ::helloooo, anxiety::).  And as I’m thinking about the one friend, my brain shifts to another who’s struggling.  And then another, and another.  Before I know it, I’ve sweat through my sheets, my legs are super stiff, and it’s 4am.

I wanted to write you a letter.  But this letter could be for her, too.

Dear Friend,

I see you.  I am sorry that you’re going through a hard time.  This is not your everyday-generic-sorry.  I see your pain and I feel the sludge that you’re stuck in.  This is hard stuff.  You deserve so much more than this shit you’re going through.  Because you’re so brave, bright, and splendid, you’ve created a community of humans who love you and support you.  But I need you to know that I am also here to keep you afloat.  I’m here to help you find air.  

You’re busy.  Busy as ever.  You feel lost and confused.  You feel frustrated that your world is often hanging.  You’re giving too much of yourself to others.  You offer advice.  You cheer me up. You laugh with me, listen to me, and you’ve stuck with me through some of the worst times of my life.  I wish that you could see yourself the way that I see you.  Beautiful, compassionate, loved. 

I pray that you find peace.  But I know she’s been hard to find lately.  I’ll hold onto you while we look together.

To the friend who’s losing a family.

To the friend who’s feeling lost.

To the friend who’s lost a child.

To the friend who’s desperate for a child.

To the friend who’s lonely.

To the friend who hates going to work.

To the friend who’s parenting alone.

To the friend whose child’s health is declining.

To the friend who’s lost a job.

We all got shit.  And I don’t want to minimize it.  I don’t want to downplay it like a common cold.  You deserve so much more than hard stuff.  I am proud of you for doing hard things.  And I feel like if we can carry hard baggage together, we’ll continue to grow stronger. 



Here’s a picture of a dog friends. It helps.


When Casey Left

Death is unfair. Unexpected death is cruel.

It has been nearly 3 months since Casey had to leave.

It was a Monday.  It was cold and damp.  I was angry when she left.  I felt sullen and confused, hopeless and stormy.  Why her?  Why not me?  Why are we given such precious people, but have no way of knowing when they have to leave? The truth is, we always think there’s time.  I didn’t get a chance to tell her how much I adored her.  How proud I am for the beauty she created.  For being an exquisite mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.  I am proud of her work.  I am proud of her passion to help others and her acceptance of all people.  I hope she can hear me in my dreams (she’s very busy, you know.  Lots to do, lots of people to visit).

I first met Casey in middle school.  Day after day, we’d spend our afternoons on the bus giggling and sharing stories.  We spent a lot of time together my junior and senior year, also, while we sang and performed.  Most memorably, she was the Cinderella to my Rapunzel.  I remember sitting next to each other while we saw Cats at Chanhassen.  I remember having jumping contests during Oklahoma. I remember she told Devin to ask me to be his girlfriend.  I remember she called me beautiful on my wedding day.

I remember standing next to Casey while singing Ave Maria. Staggering breaths. I’ll sing while you breathe. And now as I continue to breathe, she’s still singing.

And on that wretched Thursday night when hundreds of people were gathered and crammed in a small town sanctuary, I remember feeling really brave.  I didn’t want anyone to see me crumble, I didn’t want anyone to see my pain.  I knew they were holding their own grief.  But as we traveled through the church pews like a Disneyland queue, I stared at her family with their backs straight while mine began to fall.  I don’t understand why it was her.  I don’t understand why someone so loved and so important could be here one moment and be gone the next.  And I think of that age-old question, “If God is so good, why doesn’t he take away our pain?”

I kept my tears quiet in the two hours we zig-zagged through closer and closer to the cross.  It wasn’t until I was in the arms of my best friend, Kendra, that I sobbed.  I wept because I missed her.  I wept for the words I didn’t say to Casey and the moments I could have spent with her.  I felt equally grateful to hold my loved ones and equally guilty that her loved ones are left with a hole.

It didn’t matter if you knew Casey for 10 minutes or 10 years.  You loved her.  You were enamored by her beauty and kindness.  Her smile would hook you, but her charm would keep you.  She was exceptional.  One of a kind.  Remarkable.  Exclusive.  But though there was only one of her, she left us with abundant love.

In her love I remember the Truth.  That God is good even through our pain.  He is full of infinite power and goodness.  I am reminded by His promise- that His love will be more strong and more powerful than we could ever imagine.  We are promised eternity.

She built a home in our hearts with her boundless love and kindness. The world was a better place because of the friendship and devotion she shared.  She is so dearly missed.

She was so beautiful in all things.

Beautiful people leave the world a better place.  Beautiful people leave more smiles, more kindness, and more acceptance.  Beautiful people send more sunshine and rain so the earth can bloom and grow.  They flourish our soil.  Beautiful people send us miracles, but we often forget to marvel when spring comes, when the lakes clear, and the earth becomes new again.  Beautiful people come from dust and to dust they will always return.

Death is unfair. Unexpected death is cruel. Losing Casey and the sweet child she carried inside her seems too painful for words.  But God makes all things new.  Spring is near and I hope we stop to marvel her miracles.