In my mind, I see her laughing eyes, hear her somehow-always-breathless voice bubbling over, remember how we used to bump into each other on campus… stop and share helloes and hearts between classes. How we first became friends in a group of kids who often met to sing and pray… sunlight dancing warm, stained-glass color patterns all around us… all of us sitting informally on the chapel floor, lifting up each others’ needs. It was a time set apart…still in school, on the verge of our adult lives. A season for quickening, deep friendships. Bonds to last a lifetime.
And even though she’d made the decision to leave the university at the end of the year, return to her home state and fiancé, I knew how torn she was to abandon the roommates who’d become like sisters to her – to watch us moving on without her. She introduced me to two of those dear friends, making way for me to “take her place” – and we (along with another girl) became a new foursome for the following year, hoping and praying to make the list for an apartment on site. That is, if we managed to be selected from the hundreds upon hundreds camping out at the registrar’s office overnight…
The 24-hour camp-out meant that one of us had to be sitting on that musty stairwell at all times…juggling our classes and work amongst us…and spending long, weary, boring hours – holding fort in line. My turn came in some late afternoon hours of the second day. Exhausted kids wondrously snored all around me. I was leaning my head back against a hard wall, willing away the hours, trying to concentrate on books, stiff and uncomfortable… and a bit lonely.
“Hey, Pam!” a voice called, and when I followed it, there she was – stepping over the bodies everywhere, then dangling an enticing little bakery bag in front of me. House of Pies, the label read. Too small for pie, but certainly something scrumptious. She plopped down beside me, looking fresh and windblown, pretty aqua sweater tied around her shoulders …
“I thought you might like some company… and a treat,” she said, offering me a couple of fresh-baked, over-sized sugar cookies. Favorites of my soon-to-be roomies-so-she-knew-I’d-love-’em-too, she explained. She’d just thought of it and trekked a couple blocks off campus to get them. She informed me then that she also planned to take “her turn” spotting for us on the stairwell after I left. Because even if she wasn’t going to be there next year, she was a part of us… Hey, I even brought you guys together, her genuine smile seemed to say.
I doubt she remembers this moment in time, now. Living letters rarely do.
But on that day, her simple thoughtfulness echoed in my heart like the sweet chapel bells on the bluff. And I clearly remember thinking over the lump in my throat… She makes me want to be more thoughtful too.
And so I purposed in my heart – right then – to begin looking for those moments. Sometimes it’s cookies. Or a few uplifting words. Always it’s putting yourself in another’s shoes. Cookies… kindness… encouragement. Gifts that stay… written on the heart.
© Pam Depoyan