Part 1 posted here

Fun…

…ascertaining the fine art line between managing to be both snarky and sympathetic, and sassy and sincere.

…discovering others of the rare breed of people that would find a suitable time to learn to teach yourself how to knit being while watching baseball playoff games.

…surveying (and, really, not entirely in jest) interest in a 3 am small group – because, really, isn’t that the time you first think to sign up for a Bible study?  It was for the two of us!

…laughing over utter failure….of sleep studies.

…rediscovering – and, on some levels, discovering for the first time – the joy and freedom of thinking (and living) outside the box in all aspects of life.

…being among the few people would go to Souplantation just to sit for endless hours, people watch, solve the problems of the world, and eat sprinkles.  Really.  We schemed up an entire book based on the lessons we’d taken away from Souplantation.  Seriously.

Oh, and we were friends with all of the regulars.  Average age=75.  No joke.  We gave them all our own nicknames and created fascinating back stories for them…only to find out we were providing them with equal entertainment and laughter.  Besides, do you know how fun it is to make Mr. Rocket Scientist break out in a huge smile when you agree to try one of his strange concoctions that you’ve tried to analyze the ingredients of from across the restaurant for weeks on end, only to get “caught” in your peeking over after endless unnecessary trips to the fountain drink machine right near “his” table?

…plotting a takeover of the world…and arranging lunch with two very intriguing political figures.

…dreaming up crazy trips, with crazy routes, to crazy destinations, and knowing the other was one of the few who didn’t think we were off our rocker.  Have passport, will travel, right?!

…the number of times we seemed to find ourselves in the face of situations where common sense was clearly a misnomer…and way too many people were lacking any sense…common or otherwise.

…planning an impromptu slumber party after getting a call that your friend was being taken by ambulance to the ER.  Why not turn it into an excuse to play Sequence, watch Toy Story, and stay up all night while making sure there’s not another health crisis?

…joking about her cool car’s apparent “invisi-shield”…trying (most unsuccessfully) to figure out the car’s very fancy navigation system – while endeavoring to find a random, little known, cancer treatment center one of my cancer kids was at near the Getty Center…and pronouncements that, “we’re gonna die,” followed by giggles, nearly every time we were out in her car.   Yeah, gallows humor, but…

…staying up all night watching election results come in during the crazy 2004 election night drama…surveying websites, eating (we seemed to do a lot of that!), and, once again, playing Sequence for hours on end.

…seeing movies, movies, and more movies.  How many people can say they saw more movies in theatres in three weeks (gotta love cheap matinees at the cool – then – new theatre!) than they had in the entire prior three years?  But more than the movies, it was the conversations they provoked that were so great!

…discovering that most of our other friends referred to the other as our “invisible/imaginary friend.”  Other than church friends/family, the rest of the people in our respective worlds didn’t know the other, despite the fact that we were together so much.  Thus the joke that others in our life felt like the other was a bit like Snuffalufugus on Sesame Street – the supposed friend that no one else was sure existed.

I learned to find laughter and fun in the little things…that sometimes great things come in unlikely combinations or places…the importance of a little more balance to my personality, and of letting a side of me I so rarely let show be seen…that the simplest things – a smile, a wave across a restaurant, or the sampling of strange “potions” – really do often make the day of a person alone in need of a smile…that, every once in a great while, God brings along other people who are truly at the same very bizarre place in life, on some very strange levels…that sometimes, really, the best – or only – response to life’s challenges is laughter.

Forgiveness…

It’s funny because, for a host of reasons, one of the songs I most associate with that friend is Todd Agnew’s, Grace Like Rain.  That Todd Agnew album was nearly always in her car, and it’s the album that I remember so vividly the night of the hospital induced slumber party.  I suppose it’s really not a surprise then, that when she first moved away, it was like God “stalked” me with that song – it played literally every time I’d get in the car (always having inadvertently left the radio on KLove).  There were times it seriously ticked me off, it was like enough was enough, God!  But somehow it was actually fitting because the themes of grace and forgiveness were things I was challenged with on new levels, thanks to the gift of our friendship.

I learned that when God tips you off in advance, in dreams or otherwise, of the need to forgive, there’s always a reason for it – and it’s always best to do it -it makes it so much easier than it would be later on.  I (re)learned how often we’re quick to extend grace and forgiveness to others, yet, in turn, struggle to receive grace and forgiveness ourselves – whether from others or ourselves.  I learned if you can’t forgive yourself, it’s often incredibly hard to believe or truly accept forgiveness from anyone else, as well.

and the Furtherance of an Addiction…

Although I’ve long loved Disneyland and it became my local ‘escape,’ it wasn’t until one Labor Day with her that I first got an Annual Pass and my real ‘addiction’ began.  The day before school started, and having breathed a huge sigh of relief after finishing the castle for my classroom, we headed up to the ‘Mouse House’ for what was the first of many days spent at Disneyland.

I really think that it wasn’t until we had passes and could go all of the time that I learned the luxury of really appreciating all of the little things.  And what can be better, solving the problems of the world in the Happiest Place on Earth?! 🙂

We spent entire days not riding a single thing, instead hunting for the 50 Golden Hidden Mickeys for the 50th anniversary celebration of Disneyland’s opening (and then confused the heck out of the Cast Member in City Hall when we found 51 – no one was finding one, so they added one and forgot to remove the other!).

File:Mr Toad Statue, Disneyland (Closeup).jpg

And, a day at Disneyland that September was the first (of what’s ended up being many) day that became the place-to-escape-reality-and-await-potentially-life-changing-test-results (whether my own or someone else’s) and I vividly remember being there together and getting the phone call from someone dear to me that her cancer was back.

Through many of the ups and downs of the last eight years, there have been incredibly happy, fun, carefree, and joyful days at Disneyland, and days where it’s truly served as a source of escapism.  But it’s thanks to my friend that I discovered even more of the magic behind a place I’d long loved!

I’m grateful for a friend that I shared so many things – both the fun and goofy, as well as the weighty and heavy – in common with that I can’t even begin to explain to others.

I’m grateful for a friend from whom, with whom, and because of whom I’ve learned, grown, and been challenged over the years. 

I’m grateful for a friend with whom I’ve shared some truly great days and a few impossibly difficult days – times that really could have been described as “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” 

I’m grateful for a friend who says what I need to hear, even when it’s not necessarily what I want to hear – and one with whom I can do the same.

I’m grateful for a friend that’s seen me at my best and at my worst…and who loves me anyway – and who’s allowed me to see her at both and knows I love her anyway, as well.  No matter what.

My friend, you are loved and missed.  

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