Feelin' the LOVE

on 18 December 2009

6 years ago last August, my car laden with a trailer, my cat and all of my worldly possessions and I trudged the long, slow, weary trudge down I-85 to 316 and the long stop and go pathway into Athens, Georgia.  I had never been there before, I was armed only with a map and keen sense of the foolishness of my plans.  I stopped for gas outside of Atlanta and finally, after pacing around my car, I made the phone call.  I was calling Some Guy named Layne from my church.  Word was, he would be able to rustle up some help unloading my meager possessions.

(I exaggerate slightly when I say meager.  While I had very little in the way of furniture, I had approximately 15 boxes of books weighing approximately 300 pounds each.  It was August in Georgia and their assistance should not be undervalued.)

I told Some Guy named Layne that I would be arriving in about an hour, maybe an hour and half and if he could bring a bit of help, I would be really grateful.  He said he'd see what he could do and would meet me at my, as yet unseen apartment.

2 hours later, keys in hand, I trudged up the stairs in a stairwell smelling alarmingly of kim-chee.  I entered a plain, non-descript apartment.  It was steamy and hot as the electiricity had not been turned on and since it was now after 5, it couldn't be turned on until Monday morning.  Outside I met two Angels dressed in mortals clothing.  They introduced themselves as Sarah and Layne

They proceeded to schlep my whole life into that apartment.  And when the trailer and the car were empty, I calmly burst into tears. 

Sarah immediately put her arms around me and said, "You're not staying here tonight, you're coming home with me!"  And that's just what she did.  We packed up my cat and some clothes and my laundry and we went to her house.  I called Whimsy, I was having a bit of a panic attack, I did some laundry, Sarah made me dinner and Layne gave me a blessing.  I cried a lot.

They gave me rest and filled me up with enough courage to face my apartment the next day.  I set to putting things in order.  Sarah drove me around town to get my bearings, she walked me around campus and showed me the buildings she knew I would need.  We played with her cat, Jinx.  She took me to church and introduced me to people.  At some point that weekend she met up with Chris to tell him she had met his future wife.

Over the course of the next weeks, I would meet the people who would get me through graduate school.  Ginny and Thad, Nathan, Becca and Daniel, Swan and Jeremy, Krista and Evan, our institute director Brother Bradley, the senior missionaries the Barlows, and Chris, always Chris.  We would meet, start dating, fall in love and well...you know the rest.  It took only a few weeks to realize that my academic program wouldn't do much for me intellectually or professionally, but these people, oh these people, I cannot tell you what they have done for me personally and privately.

We were gathered around the Christmas tree in the Bradley's living room, me, Ginny and Thad (married 6 years now with 2 kids), Sarah Ricker (who would come into our circle later, also married to the lovely Clint), Sarah and Layne (they got engaged that first Fall and married the next Valentine's day) and our ever lovely institute director President Bradley.  He who knew us all when we were young, selfish, single and for the most part, care free.  He had counseled us through the perils of dating, engagement and newly-wedded, not so bliss.  Always with a smile, a sense of humor and much needed wisdom.  And now I find he has a wonderfully short-termed memory--for he can only remember us when we were funny or smart, when asked if he remembers how obnoxious we were he shakes his head and says, "Nooooo, you were GREAT!"

I was looking around that room last night, so many faces of people that I love (the first among them was painfully absent), and I marveled again at the roles that people play in our lives, the voids they fill, the care they take of our souls.  I read this morning that "Love is what you've been through with somebody."**  I have been forcibly reminded of that during the past few days.  These faces, they were the faces that were there when our little family first started with me and Chris and awkward conversation.  They were the faces there when we were engaged, when we were stressed by classes, professors and finals.  These were the women who showed me that being a mother isn't something to be feared, it's scary, but also possible. 

I love these people.  I never really loved Athens.  When we left, I was never homesick for it.  But oh how I pined for these people.  They never failed to make me laugh, cry, think or try to live better.  They took care of me when I could not take care of myself.  They brought the most momentous man into my world.  Which in turn brought the second most momentous man into my life.  There aren't appropriate words in any language that I know, that can say how I love these people. 

**James Thurber