Time is an odd thing. It seems like it constantly works to throw us together with strangers and then to rip us apart from the same people when they become like family.
When we are young, we find ourselves surrounded by friends who we can not imagine life without. We play together, learn together, laugh together, cry together, make memories together. We make pledges that we will grow up together and take on the world - together. At night we slip into sleep comfortable with our world and our friends.
Sooner than later, we discover than while leaving friends is painful, life does continue.
We are faced with the disconcerting thought of finding new friends among a group which looks so different from the group of friends we just left. How will we ever make friends with these people? As days pass we slowly make inroads into the group. We find similarities. We find differences. We play together, learn together, laugh together, cry together and make memories together. This time we are a bit wiser and don't pledge to stay together forever. Instead we pledge to stay in touch no matter what happens. We will be friends for life.
Sooner than later, we discover that staying in touch isn't that easy.
Once more we brace ourselves for the process of making friends. We are a little better at it this time and it doesn't seem to take that long. Now we are older, maybe in college. We find people who we like because of their ideas, their thoughts, their souls. We study together, party together, laugh together, cry together, do reckless and wild things together and make memories together. Even wiser than before, we know that some of these friends will fade with time while some - a rare few - will stay in touch.
Sooner than later, we find ourselves facing the prospect of being adults.
We enter the work place and find that it is just another set of people to make friends with. We move into our own houses in different neighborhoods and find neighbors to interact with. We find a group of others like us who are doing their best to be adults in a world without a guide book. Despite busy schedules, work, and family, we learn together, laugh together, work together, and create memories together. Now there are no promises of staying friends forever. Yes, there is a feeling of loss when friends leave or you leave. However, we understand by now that this is life.
Our hearts know to hold on to the memories.
When we have a chance to sit down and think back over the course of our lives, there are certain friends who stand out. One might be a childhood friend, another from high school, a couple from college. One might be that first neighbor who you cried with when you couldn't get the toilet to stop overflowing at midnight while your husband was away. One might be the co-worker who seemed to just know what you were thinking. One might be that crazy person from down the road with whom you chatted every morning during your walk.
Then there are those who could never be forgotten because of their impact on your life. Teachers, mentors, friends who were wise beyond their years. People who guided you on your journey to becoming you.
These people are never forgotten because their hand prints are on your soul from where they helped mold it. Their smiles are imprinted on your heart. Their voices are held in your dreams when you need to hear their wise voices.
Recently, on of these very special people in my life passed away. Her name was Barb. She was something of a second (or third or fourth) mother to me during my teen years. I can't think of the years between twelve and twenty-something without seeing her there. She was someone who honestly cared. She was a shoulder to cry on when things weren't going my way and she was a proud smile when things were going well.
I met her during my time in Rainbow Girls. For those of you who aren't familiar with this organization (formally called The Order of the Rainbow for Girls), it is a youth organization related to the Masons and Eastern Star. No - it isn't a satanic cult - it is a service organization which helps young girls grow into young women with grace and confidence (they hope!).
As a young girl of twelve, I joined "Rainbow" and it immediately became a VERY important part of my life. Prior to this I was a rather shy person. My "people skills" were not the best. I was a bit awkward. Well, suddenly, I was in the company of others who either were just like me or who had figured things out. The older girls were examples to look up to while those of my age were friends to learn with. The younger girls (in later years) were friends to help along their way. I loved pretty much each and every moment of the experience.
Barb was the mother of one of the older girls in Rainbow. They went to the same church as my family and I saw them pretty much each and every Sunday. While Janet, Barb's daughter, was a guide in Rainbow, Barb became like a mother to me - and to the other girls in Rainbow. You see, we would have meetings and activities and while the girls would be off doing something, the mothers (and/or fathers) would gather to chat. I suppose they were doing other things too but . . . I never knew since I was off with the girls. If anything was needed, any of the gathered adults acted like the parent and reprimanded (if needed), soothed, encouraged, or provided advice.
Many were the times when Barb gave out hugs to us as we darted to and fro. Also, the times when she called us in order to tell us to behave were many! Like I said - she was another mother.
I will never forget her.
When I got married, I got the gift of two throw pillows from Barb. These are actually throws which fold up into pillows. These pillows are on my big, comfy reading chair and each time I sit down to read in that chair, I take a minute to think about Barb.
One of those special people whose hand prints will forever be upon my soul.
God Bless, Barb. I will miss you.