Ah, Ethel, I remember, I remember. And remembering, I miss you, still . . .
She would have liked it. The service she so carefully planned. We all did our best, and I could almost see her peering over the edge of Glory saying, “You’d better get it RIGHT!” (We tried, Dear Friend, we tried!)
I have been trying to remember how it was that we became friends. There were so many years of laughter and suppers out and confidences shared and good, good times.
I remember one time while Certain Man was still a self employed plumber that we girls, Ethel and I, decided to go out for lunch together. This was something we never did without our husbands, but we felt like doing something different for a change, so we made our plans and were amused at our husbands’ exaggeratedly aggrieved airs. They made some mention of having a secret of their own, but these fellows often made such statements that were intended to arouse curiosity. We settled ourselves comfortably in the restaurant of our choice on this particular day, and had just gotten our salads, when who should come down the aisle but our two men. We were both surprised, but even more astonished when they continued past our table, on around the restaurant to a table on the other side. (They had gotten the hostess to take them on this deliberate parade around the restaurant) There they ate their lunch with the highest, mightiest air imaginable. We thought maybe they came to be nice to us (NOPE!) or to pay our lunch for us. (They didn’t.) We thought maybe they wanted us to come join them. (Negatory!) Something!!! We could hardly believe that they were miffed about us going out without them. (They were!) We secretly thought it was pretty funny, but I suppose you could say the guys won that one. We never did that again.
The road was not all easy. We didn’t always understand each other, and sometimes, understanding, chose different ways of responding. I am so thankful for these last few years when we could reconnect, forgive each other, learn to extend grace to each other, and there, found a friendship that was was rich and full and rewarding.
Ah, my Ethel Friend. You were a friend that sharpened me as iron sharpens iron. You made me think, you made me go back again and again to God’s Holy Word to see just what it REALLY said. You were full of courage, you didn’t ever consider anything more important than TRUTH, and you were never afraid of confrontation. I can truly say that I do not remember a time when you were cowed by what people thought.
You were strong. You were consistent. You were beautiful. You loved JR and John and Brian and Evanna and Brianna and Briar with a love that sought their good, knew them intrinsically, and in the harsh, heartbreaking knowledge of your soon homegoing, equipped them for life without you, and made incredible memories.
Today, surrounded by so many people whom you loved and who loved you, I find my heart so numb. The busy-ness of these last few days was easier for me than the waiting of the last few weeks. There was finally something to DO besides wait. But in that busy-ness, I feel a numbness, a sense of the surreal. Right now, I am so thankful that you are done with this old world and its heartache and pain and suffering and disappointment and grief and loss. But there will be a time — No, there will be many times when I will look for that smile, when I will listen for that inimitable voice that so often said, “Yes, but, Mary Ann——-!!!!” and I will miss the friendship of a gal whose very difference from me gave me reason to love her.
I’ll see you in The Morning!