I’ve been told I am a true Southern girl now.
Yesterday afternoon (after working in the morning), I headed out to the Hanson homestead to spend as much time as possible with my friend Lori before she left forever. Well, not forever. But it seems that if the Army pays for you to go to nursing school, they expect you to give them something in return. So she’s off to Texas.
I didn’t know what we would be doing — I didn’t really care, actually. I just wanted to hang out with her. She’s pretty loved, so there were two other families over at the house doing the same thing, and it turned into a really nice afternoon.
Of shooting two-litre bottles off a sawhorse.
Welcome to Tennessee.
I was thinking I would just watch, but one of the guys insisted I should try, and it was actually pretty fun. I joked to my Mom later that I worked for the Church in the morning and shot in the afternoon. That’s supposedly what we small-town people in the Midwest are doing, right? Clinging to our guns and religion?
Then this morning after Mass, we stood and talked and she told everyone goodbye… Father O’Neill blessed her and her car… and I waited until the last possible moment… until she really had to go. We hugged, I left, and my last look at her was her driving by when I was stopped at a stoplight, waving and smiling, trying to cheer me up even until the end.
I’m really going to miss that girl. We haven’t been friends for that long, comparatively. But it doesn’t matter– she’s one of the best.
Lori is amazing and special and one-of-a-kind … and since all those words have been overused, it doesn’t seem to say anything to say she’s special and amazing and one-of-a-kind. But every once and awhile you run across someone who really IS — and you feel guilty for using those words to describe anything less. Lori’s one of those people.
One of the first things we ever did together was to grab coffee after Sunday Mass at the little coffeeshop around the corner from our parish. She and her mom had attended a conference I had been in charge of, and while I had seen her around a bit, I didn’t know who she was. We got coffee that day because she had decided she wanted to be my friend. And she told me that. Straight up. I’m going to be your friend.
The fact that someone wanted to be my friend and was making a conscious decision to do something about it was humbling and touching and sort of blew me away. And when I got to know her, I soon found out I wasn’t doing her a favor being her friend — she was the gift to me.
That’s so very “Lori,” too — informing me that she wanted to be my friend. With Lori, there’s no pretense, no masks, no guile. She’s another Nathanael. What you see is what you get. That’s really rare in people these days. There’s a beautiful vulnerability, receptivity, transparency in that.
She’s incredible. Always serving, always acknowledging the other, always ready to do what needs to be done. I don’t know how to explain it, except to say she is her “brother’s keeper.” She cares about everyone — from babies to old people and everyone in between. And she wants to make sure everyone is taken care of — whether it means everyone is fed or everyone is having a heck of a good time.
And now she’s off to another city, another community, another place that needs her. With her honesty, her love, and her total self-gift to others, she will transform the world. No one gets to know Lori and remains unchanged.