When I met her, Joanna was only seven, but she immediately took up special residence in my heart. My Jacob, just a little older than she, was having trouble making friends. After the first homeschool event of that particular school year, he shared excitedly with me about how he had made a new friend, and her name was Joanna. At home, I scoured our group's address directory to find a family with a girl named Joanna. I thought I knew everyone in our group! Then, I found their names--they had just joined.
The next time I saw that family, I introduced myself to the mother, Dee, and told her about Jacob making friends with Joanna. We shared great conversation, and a beautiful friendship began.
I'm sure you've read Dee's name here before! She is, after all, and for all intents and purposes, my sister--my little sister, to be exact. Over the years, she became a true sister--very different from me in personality, but alike in all the ways that matter. Her family became "siblings" to my family, and we spent countless hours together over the next nine years.
We biked to their house, played games together, laughed, cried, and shared meals together. I had the special privilege for a season of tutoring Joanna in flute. We worked together for one hour every Thursday, and payment was that Dee cooked dinner for both our families. After tutoring, I ran out to pick up Fernando from work, and brought him back to dinner at the T. home. Of course, we couldn't just eat and leave! One must play games, sit and talk, laugh, all of it! We usually didn't get home until 10:30 or 11:00 at night. Our one-hour flute session turned into about seven hours of fun. :)
Let me recount one of my favorite memories. One day, we biked over, and my guys all ran off with J. and S. Joanna, Dee, and I ended up in the kitchen. I asked Dee, "So, what are we doing today?"
She replied, "Organizing my kitchen." Yeah, she grinned when she said that.
I said, "Really??" (Organizing is one of my favorite things to do.)
Joanna and I both grinned at each other.
Within fifteen minutes, here was the scene in the kitchen: Dee sat happily at the kitchen table, working a crossword (or a Sudoku) and chatting away with Joanna and me. Meanwhile, Joanna and I worked happily together, emptying cabinets, discovering three different open bags of flour, collecting all the spices together, and getting things in tip-top shape. Can you see why Joanna was so special to me? I just loved that girl, and over the years watched her grow into a beautiful, godly teenager.
Then, they moved away.
A few short years later, Joanna married Jonathan. There was no way we'd miss the wedding. This, after all, was family.
We hadn't even seen them before the wedding! Then, there was Dee in the doorway, all dressed up and so pretty as the mother of the bride! I burst into tears; I was a mess already! The bridesmaids and flower girl walked in, and then--there she was, with her dad, calm and radiant.
The ceremony came to an end. The reception passed by just as quickly, so I sought Joanna out and gave her a hug. One long, tender embrace which held the emotions of all those years of precious memories. It wasn't enough.
Fernando got a hug, too. :)
Then the reception hall emptied. We were some of the last ones out; but, what a privilege to see the couple walking out of the church, hand-in-hand to the waiting crowd and to their car.
We watched from behind as Jonathan got Joanna settled in their car amid the cheers, laughter, and applause of the crowd. Then they drove away.
She was gone.
I treasured all those memories as I silently said my goodbyes. This daughter of my heart is no longer there; that season is over. When I see her again, a new season will begin--I will call her friend.
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