When I was in the fifth grade I sat next to a girl who would soon become one of my best friends. Dana has always been unapologetic about her passions, and I quickly found friendship in her quirky, drama-kid personality. By seventh grade, Dana and I could be found singing showtunes to ourselves in the hallways and she invited me to do a musical, Meet Me In St. Louis, with her at the community theater. One Christmas I drew Dana a picture of an angel, and she proudly told me that someday, when I was a famous artist, she would boast at having the original of originals of my work. Without knowing it, kid-Dana, in typical drama-kid fashion, not-so-quietly encouraged me to be myself.
On the first day of high school in my first class I met Taylor. We nervously introduced ourselves in Spanish class, and later, when we found each other in the same Algebra class before lunch, we agreed eating lunch together was the best plan of attack. We sat in the hallway outside the cafeteria, too scared to face all the other students, and quietly ate our sack lunches. On the last day of high school, we ate lunch together again. In those four years, we would cheer each other on through every life pursuit, and ultimately would watch each other grow from meek freshmen girls to head-strong, brave college women. Throughout it all, Tay constantly reminded me it is possible to be both driven, independent, and intelligent as well as faithful and God-fearing.
After moving 1500 miles away from home for college, it goes without saying that I had no friends at school. My first week in the dorms, I met Allison -- a Dallas-native and tea connoisseur. We spent many nights venting about crazy roommates, watching TV and doing something like painting nails or dying hair. The next year, we lived together and Allison happily chauffeured my car-lacking-butt around town. And when I wanted to audition for choir, she drove me to buy sheet music, tolerated my singing the same song over and over in our tiny apartment, and even came along with me to the audition to aid in moral support. Between no-good roommates, boys that made me cry, and eventually the man that would win my heart, Allison was always there quietly cheering me on.
That first week of choir at Tech, I met long-legged, brightly-smiling, fellow-alto Candace. Our director often begged us to stop our joking and pay attention. In between songs we would discuss the complexities of her relationship with her long-term boyfriend, religion and what fun we could have during the weekend. A little over a year later, I was delighted to see Candace dressed in white enter the room with a new last name, her long-term boyfriend now her husband, and the same sweet smile beaming on her face. And today as we laughed over chips and tacos at lunch, I was grateful for the spunky yet peaceful way she views everything life has to offer.
To my sweet friends, both mentioned and otherwise, you have truly been the angels in my life -- both literally and figuratively, as you quietly lead and inspire me. In the words of Jeffrey R. Holland:
"I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."
If I could have written a paragraph for every friend who has touched my life...you would have been reading for a while. Know that I love you, even if you weren't mentioned. ♥