I have this friend, her name is Steph.
I don't even know if I can begin to do justice to even a portion of what she means to me, but I'm going to give it a fair shake right here and now, because she has inspired me to.
She doesn't know it, but this morning as I was reading (a practice she has unwittingly thrust me into) I looked over at my nightstand and there, perched atop a stack of books that, before I knew her, would simply not have been there, I eyed a little blue booklet. It's a booklet she gave me once when I came to visit her. It's beautiful. You know what's beautiful about it? It is completely handmade by her. She made the paper. She bound it with silky blue ribbon. She attached a handmade ornament on the front. She then filled it with some of her favorite quotes by people like Shakespeare, Thoreau, Frost and even Dave Barry. All of them handwritten in, I might add, beautiful sweeping cursive penmanship the likes I've never seen. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's an absolute keepsake! And you know what makes it a keepsake? It's what moved me this morning when I saw it, to hold it in my hands and read it through twice and be warmed by this thought: It's a piece of her. She put thought and effort into every last detail of it. Right down to the fact that she left the last few pages empty so that I might finish it with my favorite quotes. That's just how she is. She cares well.
Have I mentioned that she's funny? Or smart? Or pretty? Or real? Or compassionate? Or witty? Or more wonderfully different than anybody that I know?? Well then, let me mention that NOW! This woman has a perspective that is...well, indescribable. One of my favorite things she has ever said about herself to me is this, "I rarely have a bad hour, much less a bad day." And I've found it to be absolutely true. This one thing about her has, more than almost any other thing, been my saving grace. It's not that I never have a bad hour or a bad day anymore, but somehow when I'm getting down, I think of her and I can't help but smile (if not laugh) with delight, and it pulls me out of almost certain doldrums. She is the smile of God!...with attitude. It's not a benign, or slapped-on smile either. It is as real as her soul because that's where it comes from. There's nothing fake about it. Even without knowing it at times, she has this way of finding something good about a person and accentuating it. She would probably deny that, but that's because she has a tendency not to see herself the way I do. I guess that's only fair because I have the same tendency when it comes to how she sees me. She builds me up when life tries to tear me down. Did I mention that she's amazing?
I would be remiss if I didn't say that she loves her God with all her heart and coming in at a close second are her two spectacular girls. There's nothing more precious than the way she calls them 'baby'. Nothing.(I love them both and they are darlings.) I've been lucky enough to witness both of her first loves first hand. One of my favorite pictures of her is planted at that spot in my heart where I hide things that I treasure. Suffice it to say that I've seen parts of her soul...And I am in awe. I cherish and treasure (CAT;) her more than mere words can describe.
However, there is one thing that I simply hate and it is this: She lives so damn far away!! I'm a communicative kind of a guy (just ask her how many ridiculous text messages she gets every stinkin' day!!) and there's something that emails and texts and even phone calls can't deliver. I think a good friendship deserves that one thing: presence. I hope to experience it again soon.