Last week I attended the funeral of a childhood friend. Three months ago she was diagnosed with cancer. Just three months.
Her name was Deb. We were BFFs before there ever was such a designation. I lost track of the number of people at the funeral who said, “You two were inseparable.” And we were. Sleepovers. Bike rides. Chocolate. Picnics. Summers at the library. Books. Books. Books.
A typical Sunday afternoon would find Deb curled up on one end of the couch, me on the other, and in between us were our latest reads. There may have been a bowl of popcorn and M&Ms. Always popcorn.
Along with her love for reading, Deb also had a love for writing. She had a true passion for it. Me, not so much. I remember “borrowing” one of her short stories and entering it in a writing contest. Deb said she wasn’t brave enough to do it herself. So I did it for her. Isn’t that what BFFs do? Imagine her surprise when she won a contest she didn’t know she had entered. It was a proud BFF moment.
Deb may not have been brave enough to believe in her writing, but she was brave enough to believe in me. I’m convinced it took much courage for a fifth grader to one day invite her friend to church. But that courageous invitation changed my life forever.
For the next few years, Deb and her family picked me up most Sunday mornings for church. That’s when I became a part of the Noble family. Sunday School. Church. Sunday dinner. Afternoon family stuff. Evening church. Youth events. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Deb and her family loved me to Jesus.
I can’t imagine it was always easy or convenient to have another kid around, another mouth to feed. But not once, not once, ever did I feel anything but a part of their family. God knew I needed the consistency of those Sundays to crack open my fearful, guarded, locked up tight heart. God knew I needed to watch a dad love, really love, his daughter and not hurt her, or hate her, or leave her. God knew I needed this family to love me to Jesus.
When I heard how sick Deb was I just had to write her. I had to tell her one more time what her 5th grade act of courage did for just one life. How does someone adquately say thank you for that? I’m not sure, but I tried.
So these last days as I’ve told Deb Noble stories to my girls, I’m challenged with a question. Who am I loving to Jesus? Who are we as a Brown family loving to Jesus? It takes courage. It takes commitment. It takes time. But I know that one courageous step can change a life forever. I know because it changed mine.
Thank you, Deb. With all of my heart, thank you.