Puzzle Pieces

Sometimes in life we develop unexplainable relationships. They may be someone with a different personality type than you normally gravitate towards. Or maybe it’s someone with a different lifestyle than you. Maybe there is an underlying background story between the two of you that just keeps it from making much sense to others.
So. What.

Kudos to us for taking on the abnormal. Not that our friends are abnormal. (You better be nice, they are reading this thinking the same about you. Haha.) The relationship is abnormal. From our norm. They may fit perfectly into someone else’s norm, but for you, they are a puzzle piece that you had to work into place. Now that they are there, the completed puzzle looks lovely.

My life has lots of these puzzle pieces. I don’t care what you do for a living, who you were or what your past consists of, what size your clothes are or even your favorite food. I love my friends because I have worked carefully to develop the relationships & I see my friends through their hearts.

So are we a bit abnormal? Yup.

I’m cool with that.

Let’s take for example the funky underlying backstory. When we were 19, Mark broke up with me to go hang out with an ex girlfriend. She was his first love & they were young (16) & dumb. He & I obviously got back together eventually. Fast forward to right after we were married, probably around 26, 27 years old & we are attending the same church as this ex, Jackie. She was tall & thin with long blonde hair. I am tall. Lol. That is literally where the similarities ended. We had a mutual friend who understood the awkwardness. But we had a women’s retreat & Jackie needed a room because hers had fallen through. Our mutual friend approached me & said “I know this could be extremely awkward & I don’t want to diminish your experience but I need to ask. Can Jackie stay in our room?” With great angst, I said “of course.”

Jackie & I stayed up all night. Not an exaggeration. We got zero sleep. We laughed & talked & became great & amazing friends. We did small groups together, met for lunch, even had cookouts together-with Mark & her husband. We shared everything, our pasts, our presents, our fears, our faith.

Our relationship made zero sense to anyone that knew the history. I should have hated her, right? She was his first love. He left me for her years later. Maybe I should have. Maybe for a while, I did. But when our friend asked me to swallow it so Jackie could attend the retreat, if I had allowed that underlying backstory to say “no” to that simple request, I’d have missed out on one of the most beautiful people I ever knew.

Jackie & her family have long since moved away & sadly, we lost touch after that. Our relationship remains one of my favorites because we always had fun & she stretched me to try new things. We would stay late after small groups & sing worship songs on stage at church late into the night. We roller bladed (ps, NEVER ask me to do this. I’m the WORST!). We discussed faith based topics & how we felt and their impact on us.

We talked about her history with Mark.

Not intimate details but enough that he no longer was an underlying backstory. He was just a backstory.

More than all of that, our relationship taught me one of my greatest lessons…

After God, all his glory, & the salvation of the cross, the greatest gift God gives us is each other. We are not our past. We are not the decisions we make. At any given moment we can make a smarter, wiser, or dumber decision that will change the course of our life’s path. By allowing those things to overshadow the actual person, we cannot see the person inside. There may be hurts that we have the bandaid to fix. There may be brokenness that we have the glue to repair. There may be a soul aching for the Jesus we have within. There may be a wall only we can scale. There may be a belly needing our soup. Or just maybe, they have these for us.

Maybe the best thing for a relationship is to discuss that elephant in the room. To bring that underlying backstory to the surface, in all of its awkwardness. Maybe not. Maybe it’s too raw yet. That’s ok too. Maybe the backstory is keeping a mini wall between us, but it’s not keeping us from developing OUR great story. And one day, it too, will just be part of our story. Maybe that awkward subject of “feelings” needs to be discussed. Maybe you just need to clear the air about a past hurt or a wall you’ve built.

If you are my friend, you are my friend regardless of anything else in life. Color, size, past or creed hold little bearing. I love you for being you, unconditionally with zero expectations. I do not ask you to be perfect, just be. Obviously, I will stick my nose into your business & tell you my opinion if I disagree with your choices, but I would hope the same from you.

So friends, new and old…I am grateful for you. I love you. I don’t care how different we are. That thing you think I may never understand, you are wrong. I would. That upbringing that left you scarred, I see it. The abuse you try to hide, I too lived it. The bad marriage you cover, been there, done that. The child filled with discontent and rage, I see ya sister. I love you still.

I love you AND your uglies.

Every. Single. Day.

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Missing You..Year Two

Dearest Andrew,

(Technically, I am a day early but when the words hit, they hit & not sharing them when they are full of emotion seems to defeat the purpose-so I am sharing a few hours early.)

Here I am, another year past without you. Two eternally long years that have gone by in the blink of an eye. People say “You’ve made it so far! You’re so strong!” You & I both know it’s not really been living. It’s more survival, a bleak existence of sorts. When I hear how “strong” I am, how I’m an “inspiration,” I wonder what those same people would say if they were a fly on the wall when I am home. Alone, lying in bed after work because I have no reason to stay up, or crying into the pillow because I’m exhausted from trying to be the survivor they see, the one who still misses her best friend so deeply that every day is such an effort she wonders why she is even bothering.

After two years, I keep waiting for my emotions to catch up to the cliches. “Time heals all wounds.” “Give it time, you’ve been through a trauma.” Time, time, time. I’ve had enough of this time. I’ve had enough of the pain, the tears, the “normalcy” that everyone else but the few of us broken by your loss have been able to return to.

As I lie in bed, still awake, despite being here for hours, my face crusted with salt from crying all day, which is almost a permanent feeling at this point, I remember the memories of that last week. This has been going on like a rerun for weeks now. I occasionally venture back to other days with you. Funny moments. Our arguments, which were heated & filled with passion for our respective opinions. How we were never afraid to be honest, good or bad, happy or sad. Except about how we felt towards each other. We had a deal. We wouldn’t talk about that. Neither of us could handle that at the time. But we spoke every day. Often. We knew everything about each other…good, bad & ugly. We loved each other in spite of all of it, & kept showing up. To nurse old wounds, make each other laugh or just offer dinner. To watch movies, snuggled into the couch. To be the closest friends two crazy people could be. To give each other unconditional love & acceptance because that is what we each needed at the time.

I’m not naive enough to sit here and say we were going to be “besties forever,” but we were perfect for the time we were blessed enough to share for as long as we were blessed to share it.

Perfect.

Well, perfectly messy. Perfectly crazy. Perfectly not perfect. We both had baggage we brought to the table each day. Lots & lots of baggage. So much, I’m surprised there was room for us to be in the same building.

The day you went home to Jesus, you left yours here. I’m so glad you no longer have those heavy burdens. Unfortunately, I now carry more. I wonder if you look down at me with frustration. I wonder if you scream down from heaven “I’M BETTER NOW THAN I”VE EVER BEEN! Let me go, silly girl.” I can picture you shaking your head at me, calling me crazy. I’m reminded of the many times you would open your arms to hug me after I’d had an extra crappy day. That is the memory I rest in.

After all this time, 730 days without you now, I have come so far, yet not moved an inch. I dread the idea of coming out of my grief & functioning like “normal” because then you are officially gone, although my head knows you left 730 days ago. I dread the idea of staying in my grief because every day is torture. I live in a state of purgatory in between. Some days I think I get too distracted & forget to remember you. But I haven’t, you just weren’t at the center of the day. How can I love others so deeply but feel like my heart died with you? My entire existence is an oxymoron.


In these letters I always tell you what’s new in my life. Today, I miss you as much as I did 729 days ago & I suspect will still be the same 729 days from today. At this point, I have learned that being graceful is more than being like Jackie Kennedy & that loving is more than being a parent. They are both more of being like Jesus. And like you were. As hard as you may have tried not to be, you were the heart & hands of Christ in the manner you handled people. I thank you for reviving a place within me that needed to have the passion fueled for His people & for accepting me as I was to be your friend. Thank you for allowing me to walk beside you for the remainder of your days. And I know that despite the expanse between us, you will walk beside me the remainder of mine.

Much love sweet Andrew,

Matilda