Friday, April 26, 2013


I took this shot yesterday and it is quickly becoming a favorite photo of mine.

About seven years ago, we were living in Kent, I was teaching and Joshua was a one-year-old. I was really lonely. I was the only one of my friends to be a married mom, we had moved to an area where I didn't know anyone, we were further away from my family and I wasn't really connecting with any of my fellow teachers. The Pre-K program that I taught was very separate from the rest of the school, so I really didn't even see the other teachers very much.

I felt like such a loser. I needed some friends! And I felt like there must be something wrong with me since I was having so much trouble making any. There were a few women that I tried to get together with, but we just didn't really have anything in common.

Now, of course I was a married mom, so of course I had Jason. Our first years of marriage were a wonderful time and he really was and continues to be my best friend. But that didn't fulfill the need I had for some women friends.

I remember sitting in the rocking chair in our room, praying to God with hot, embarrassed, frustrated, messy tears streaming down my face, asking Him to send me a friend. It was so humbling and humiliating. What kind of person needs to pray for friends?!

Not long after that, we began volunteering for Engaged Encounter. I remember first meeting Jenny at an Engaged Encounter barbeque. We didn't know many people yet and I was a little nervous. I remember Jenny arriving with a two or three month old little baby. As everyone welcomed her with hugs and ooh's and ah's over Zachary, it was immediately apparent that everyone knew her and loved her.

Not long after that, I began taking Joshua to a music class at "Ms. Jenny's" house.

For most of this time, I was just sort of observing Jenny in admiration. She is such a joyful, funny, outgoing, friendly and radiant woman. Watching Jenny inspires you to enjoy your life more. I knew I wanted to be friends with her, but wasn't really sure how to go about that. What was I supposed to do? Say, "Hi. I think you're super awesome! Can we be best friends now?"

But when we first did get together just to talk and let the boys play, it soon became very apparent that we had so much in common. We both liked to run, we were both writers, we were both Catholic stay-at-home moms and we laughed and laughed as we discovered that we both have ex-boyfriends who later on discovered they were gay and happen to also be very close friends with each other.

On June 20, 2007, my journal says, "Thank you God for giving me Jenny!"

I have never had a friend like her. So many laughs shared. So many tears. So many things we have admitted to one another, only to be encouraged and reassured by each other. A relationship that goes through ups and downs, that has periods of joy and such intimate closeness and then times of disillusionment. Just like marriage!

When I look at that photo, there is of course the first reaction of how cute it is to see our daughters walking and holding hands. It reminds me of the journey we've been on together as mothers, and how we used to dream of raising daughters together. Well, there they are!

But as I study the photo, there is also so much more. In my daughter, I see myself. And in my goddaughter, I see Jenny. We are not racing down the path, but treading carefully, helping each other along the way. Kayli's foot is coming off of the ground just a moment before Veronica's. This too is how I see Jenny. She's been married longer, she's been a mother longer, she and Mike began volunteering for Engaged Encounter before we did and actually presented on our weekend when we were engaged. In so many ways, Jenny emulates a woman who I want to be more like, someone whose footsteps I'd like to follow in.

In the photo, the girls are walking from the shade towards the light. This too is significant. Jenny has been an immense part of my faith journey as a woman and a mother. To share our faith and be able to discuss it and explore it and celebrate it and challenge it together has been an added richness to the blessing of our friendship. She and Mike will be the godparents to our next baby.

We talk about dying. Between she, Mike, Jason and I, who will die first? Who will grieve first, who will comfort? This may seem morbid, but it's never a conversation coming from a place of depression, but more one of wonder. I actually enjoy philisophical discussions about death and life and what's in store for us on the other side. Jenny says I talk about heaven more than anyone she knows and I like that.

In the photo, the girls are walking toward the light, just as Jenny and I walk together, helping one another to grow further in our potential and hopefully in our journey one day into heaven.

Having Jenny as a friend makes living life so much more fun! When we discuss death, inevitably I wonder how I would ever get along without her. Of course, we hope and pray for long lives for ourselves and all of our loved ones. I pray to share with Jenny many more sunny afternoons at the beach, glasses of wine (when I'm not pregnant, of course), tearful laughs and sharing of ourselves.

Dear God, thank you for Jenny.

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