Day 29: Dear Dawn

*I’m thankful for my college friend, Lorie Mink for sharing her letter to her friend, Dawn, on Day 29 of the Dear Gratitude project.*

Dear Dawn,
Dawn and me at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut in 1987.

Dawn and me at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut in 1987.

I remember the day we met like it was yesterday. It was June of 1980, and I was three months shy of turning 9. We just moved into the lower level of Mr. O’Brien’s house, and mom and dad were busy sorting the boxes and unpacking. Mom insisted I go outside for a bit as I was getting in her way. Since it was a new neighborhood, I was only allowed to go into the backyard, but it was beautiful there. Mr. O’Brien kept plots of a variety of flowers, some I’d never seen before, and I spent time wandering around them pretending I was a fairy tending to the latest crop of magical flowers.

I remember seeing you and your friend splashing around in the above ground pool in your backyard, but I pretended not to notice. Oh how envious I was of the two of you because you were both laughing and splashing and carrying on, and I was on my own. I never spoke to you or even looked over, except for a few glances out of the corner of my eye. Your aunt made the first move, coming over to the fence to say hi. I remember thinking she must be your grandma because of her white hair. She had a bright smile and was very friendly to me, and I shyly smiled back at her.

You and your friend finally acknowledged my presence then, hanging onto the side of the pool as you called out questions to me. I didn’t think you liked me as you dismissed me pretty quickly and went back to playing in the pool, though your friend remained to talk to me. It was several weeks before you said anything to me, and that was to tell me to stay away from your friend. She came over with her Barbies, and we played on my front porch while you watched from the window up above. It took her calling your name several times for you to come down. But you wouldn’t play with us, no matter what. It took your friend moving away for you to finally show interest in being my friend.

And what a friend you became.We were together so often back then; your grandma kept saying we must be stuck together with glue. You were my first sleepover friend, and I was yours. You finally played dolls with me, and I rode bikes with you, keeping a happy balance between the girly girl I was and the tom-boy you were. No matter who I hung out with or what I did, you were always with me and vice versa.

We forged a bond that would go on to last over 30 years, though we haven’t seen each other since 1987.Through phone calls, letters, and emails, we stayed in touch over the years, keeping our friendship strong the only way we could. We’ve been through it all together via phone and letters. I remember the day you called and told me your grandma passed away. She was the only mother you’d known, as your mom had passed away when you were only two weeks old. You were heartbroken, and I tried to find the right words to comfort you.You did the same for me when first my mom, then my dad passed away. Saying things I needed to hear and telling me how much you wished you could be with me. And it never failed that the days I seemed so down and defeated would be the days I would receive a letter or a card from you full of love and encouragement. How did you always know when I needed you most?

I can look back on a wonderful, fun-filled childhood thanks to you and your family, who always made me feel welcome, as if I belonged in your family. I only hope my family did the same for you. I pray every day that we will get to see each other again before we die. It’s the number one item on my bucket list. But even if we never set eyes on each other again, I know our friendship will last to the very end because of the powerful bond we created back in those early days when life still had that special glow and our biggest concerns were having enough money to get penny candy from the store or a ride to the local skating rink on Saturdays. I will always be grateful for the special friendship we created and managed to maintain for over 30 years and hope we have many more years of friendship to come.

Day 23: Dear Stick

*Today’s post on day 23 of the Dear Gratitude project is written by Toi Thomas, a talented writer and fellow blogger.*

Dear Stick,

Hey man, we been friends a long time, and I just wanted to let you know that I’m glad. I mean, I’m glad that I’ve had a chance to be your friend. When I look back and think about how rocky things started out for us, it makes me laugh, but hey, you were there; you know what I’m talk’n bout.

For more than ten years now we’ve been hanging out and talk’n bout movies, especially the weird ones that none of our other friends or family seem to like or get. We been talk’n bout comic books and action figures, which seems to only become cool recently thanks to The Big Bang Theory, but we were already cool long before that. And now, even our days of vinyl hunting don’t seem so magical now that “Vinyl is back with a vengeances,” but it hasn’t stopped us from growing our collection anyway.

What else can I say man; it’s been really cool having you around for all these years. I hope to continue hanging out with you for many more.

Dear Eric,

Toi and husbandIt’s been so long since I’ve taken the time to let you know how blessed I am to have met you. I remember how much I used to be so annoyed by you and all your “cool” friends, but then one day… you were mine. I know how it happened, I was there, but it still seems so unbelievably amazing to me.

From the beginning, you have showered me with: food, laughter, culture, affection, attention, understanding, acceptance, and most of all, love. You see beauty in me when I don’t see it in myself, and you make others view me the way you do. I could be happy to sit alone with you in a room for days, but you won’t let me. You give me strength to go out into the world and interact with people. You make me look and feel good in so many ways. It’s the way you build me up and make others take notice of me when they normally wouldn’t; thank you for that.

Thank you for being with me through those years of maturing. I’ve shared so much with you, so much more than I ever have or will with anyone else. Mind, body, and soul, I am a strong and fulfilled woman for so many reasons, but one of the major ones is you. Everything I know about intimacy, respect in a relationship, and how to really “be” with someone, I’ve learned from loving you.

Every morning when I wake up, I’m glad to see your face, and every day when I come home, I look forward to your kiss. I hope this never ends. I hope to wake up next to you until the end of time.

Mr. Thomas,

If gratitude could be measured, or perhaps weighed, you’d find yourself only yards from Heaven and showered in gold. For everything you do for me I’d give you a gold coin, and for every sacrifice you make for me, you’d be catapulted that much closer Eternal Peace.

But let’s be practical about this, Mr. Thomas. One cannot do these things, but one can proclaim, acknowledge, and praise where praise is due. You turned your life over and accepted the mantle of husband, and a man of God, and far exceeded my expectations. You are not perfect, but:

You always take out the trash and attend to the yard when it’s needed.

You’re not a slob, and even if you were, you’d feel bad about it.

You actually look forward to spending time with me and talking with me.

You like to share life and daily experiences with me, from all those times you and I can’t be together.

You help out around the house, especially with laundry.

You take care of all the car stuff between you and me.

You actually know me well enough to pick things out for me because I don’t like to shop, and you will even go out and get things for me.

You like me just the way I am even if I’m not the prettiest girl in the room, and you’re always trying to protect me because you think some weirdo is staring at me ( Sometimes I think you’re right).

You take care of me through all my ailments, and though it’s so much more than you had imagined, you show care and nurturing effortlessly.

You know how to make me smile when I get sad for no reason, and you stick with me through all my dark spells.

You believe in my dreams, even though you don’t always know how to say so.

You work two jobs to help make our lives together more comfortable while I pursue my dreams.

You are not a demanding and needy man, unless you fall ill, but who isn’t then?

While you love and enjoy spending time with your friends, you honestly proclaim that I am your best friend.

Mr. Thomas, you have proven yourself above and beyond to be a good husband. Your methods put forth to show me love and affection have been so catered to my needs and desires, that it seems you could not have been made to love anyone else. I do not believe there is an exact or accurate way to properly express the amount a gratitude I have for you.

I am truly a blessed woman.

Eric “Stick” Thomas, I love you dearly and am eternally grateful to have you in my life.

Your adoring friend, lover, and wife,

Toinette “Toi” Thomas

 

 

BFFs

2 sweet 2 B 4 gotten.

LYLAS.

BFFs.

Remember those notes between friends back in the 80s? I have a collection of them between me and my best friend, MeLissa.

Just being ourselves, circa 2004 maybe

Just being ourselves, circa 2004 maybe

My friend MeLissa and I have been friends for forever. We met in first grade at Rose Hill Elementary School in Rose Hill, Kansas. We rode the same bus for a while, but I’m  not sure if that’s how we became friends or not. All I know is that before long, we were begging our parents to let us have slumber parties together, making board games together out of big sheets of butcher paper, and practicing our gymnastics skills in the yard.

At first glance, we’re not really that similar. MeLissa is quieter than I am, more introspective, and more likely to listen than talk. She prefers the background rather than the limelight, and anyone who knows me knows that I have an extra large ham bone somewhere inside me. When we met, MeLissa lived with her dad in a nice, suburban neighborhood. My family lived in a trailer park, and we were on welfare. But despite all our differences, we managed to create countless fun memories together.

After my family moved out of state, I was worried I would lose my best friend. On the contrary, we became closer. We began writing letters. Real letters, on actual stationary and notebook paper, that required envelopes and postage stamps. In the days before email and Facebook, we kept in touch the old-fashioned way, and it worked. Through the awkward years of junior high, the trials of hormonally charged high school years, and the exuberance and adventures of college, we kept on writing. We’ve tried to be there for each other for the most important times, good and bad. We’ve laughed with one another and cried together, too. We’ve prayed for each other.

I’m beyond grateful for my best friend because of the joy, comfort, encouragement, and sense of calm our relationship brings to my life. I know I can pick up the phone, after not talking to her for six months, and start right where we left off without any pauses or awkward silences. There’s something to be said for forever friends. I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.

I love you, MeLissa. Happy birthday and hope your day is filled with that contagious laughter I love hearing every time I talk to you.

 

A cup of water

007Today, one of my best friends drove two hours to visit me for the second time since my baby was born. I consider her to be my “soul sister” because of the parallel spiritual paths we trod. As the mother of four children, taking an entire day to visit me, including the driving time, is no easy task. It takes planning, cooperation and assistance from helpful friends and family members, gas money, and time away from other responsibilities.

But I’m so grateful when she is able to visit.

Yesterday, I had a pretty awful morning, to be honest. My daughter was not interested in eating for a span of several hours, much longer than what is normal or healthy for her. She didn’t seem to feel well, but I couldn’t figure out the source of her discomfort. As I attempted to nurse her for the fourth time that morning, tears began to drip down onto her pudgy belly. I prayed and asked for God’s help in determining how to make her feel better and/or how to motivate her to eat. But mostly I let Him know, as if He didn’t know already, that I really, really needed His help, a break, and some sleep.

I let my daughter go back to sleep and put myself back to bed, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to nap because of my endless insomnia. As I lay there awake, I prayed some more. I didn’t sleep, but I rested, and I felt a little less like a lunatic after an hour had gone by.

003Then the phone rang. It was my mom, asking if she could stop by to visit for a bit.

Yes!

Please!

God knew I needed someone to come along to encourage me, complement my baby on how much she has grown and how healthy and beautiful she is, and to remind me that I’m doing a very good job raising her. My mom only stayed a few hours, but it completely changed my emotional course for the day.

My friend’s visit did the same for me today.

As I relaxed this afternoon after she left, with my baby peacefully napping in the next room, a song by Chuck Brodsky performed by David LaMotte came to mind. “We Are Each Other’s Angels” has always been one of my favorite songs, and it’s never sounded sweeter than when I listened to it today.

When God sends me people to minister to me in moments when I need it most, it makes me feel like a marathon runner at the 25th mile marker–exhausted, legs aching, barely able to catch my breath, and ready to just give up.

And then an angel reaches out her arm, holding a paper cup of cool water, just enough to get me through one more mile.