Two weeks ago, a friend passed away unexpectedly. She was 27 and fabulous. I've been thinking about her so much the past couple of weeks, and really wanted to write about her but wasn't sure what to say. What can you ever say when someone dies too, too soon?
I met Rose my first week of work at a past job. It was her last week. All the girls that worked there were thin and immaculately dressed. I was dumpy and dowdy. You couldn't help but like Rose right off the bat. She had a voice like a 5 year old and great taste in everything. We bonded over our love for Coke Zero. Rose immediately included me in the "going away" festivities to paint pottery. I was too afraid to go because I barely knew anyone, but it meant so much to me to be invited.
We stayed in touch after she started her new job, and went on several double dates with our husbands. She invited us to dinner parties with all their other friends. She introduced me to Coke Cherry Zero. When her husband was in basic training in Texas, she was overwhelmed and frustrated with trying to deal with selling their house and all the headaches that comes with that. My husband was hardly ever home. We'd never done anything just the two of us, and I was nervous. What should I wear? What if I couldn't think of anything clever or interesting or funny to say? What if she thought I was so boring and lame? Come on... you know you've got a little bit of 16-year-old in you when you're hanging out with "The Cool Kid." None of that was a problem. We went shopping and to a movie and lunch. We laughed and laughed and laughed at "Dan in Real Life." Every time I see that movie I think of her cracking up at the dinner table scene with Steve Carell's character being awkward and inappropriate. She introduced me to Lotsa Noodles and told me to try the pesto and tomato sauce. We found a great deal on camisoles (You know, the kind you wear under shirts... Not the sexy kind. We were shopping for her seeing-Justin-for-the-first-time-after-Basic, but I didn't get THAT involved!) that I still wear on a regular basis.
Rose and Justin were stationed in Valparaiso, FL and their going away dinner was at a favorite Italian restaurant. They served one of her and Justin's "Eat like a bird, run like a cheetah" staples- spinach and strawberry salad. I think everyone else ate pizza. :-) Our friends had just had a baby and he was the hit of the party! We all gushed about having kids someday... Kristan told us what it was really like and brought us down to earth with stories of c-sections and jaundice. I thought it wouldn't be long until we'd hear that Rose and Justin were starting a family.
The last time I saw Rose was early 2008 when they came back to visit. She had made treats and snacks at Kristan's house and it seemed like she had never left. I was newly pregnant and she was so happy for me, even though it was a less than perfect situation. She even wrote me later to tell me how cute she thought I looked and how she couldn't wait to meet the baby.
We kept in touch through the wonders of Facebook. She sent me healthy cooking and baking tips. She gave me icing recipes that knocked my socks off. She commented on picture after picture after picture of my son. She emailed me to make sure I was okay and not upset (with her, of all things!) after a particularly ugly and hurtful Facebook religion debate. Rose truly cared about people. She didn't agree with my liberal politics, but she cared that I was sad. She was always so kind when we'd talk about the things we disagreed about. And with Rose, I didn't really have to get into it. I know what she believed, and she knows what I believed. And that was fine. We don't agree, but we respected each other. Her views came from a place of love and concern for people's well-being.
The best word to describe Rose IS kind. Kristan called her that during her memorial, and it is the perfect word to describe Rose. Yes, she was incredibly artistic. She was a wonderful cook and baker. She was organized and involved with church and loved her husband and her dog and her family and her friends and Jesus and kids... But most of all she was kind.
Her marriage will go down as one of the great love stories. They got married a couple of years after dating, while still in college. She said that they couldn't keep their hands off each other, so they just got married! It was so obvious how much they love each other. They were so attentive and sweet to each other. Justin would tell funny stories... There was one about Rose's voice setting something off... Does anyone remember what it was? I want to say those lights things that you clap to make turn on and off! I think about Justin everyday. My heart breaks for him. It is so unfair for someone to die so young. But it is so unfair for someone to lose their love so young.
So Rose, thank you. Thank you for touching my life in such a short time. Thank you for being my friend. I wish I'd told you what a great mother you would be. I wish I had told you how much I admired your marriage and commitment to Justin. I wish I could have your sureness of faith, your dedication to improving your walk with Christ. I wish you had met my son. I miss Facebooking with you about big things and little things. Who will answer all my baking questions? No one is going to fill the big void you left. I wish you were still here. But I know where you are, and I know how happy you are to be with your Creator. You were such an example of His love. I hope to see you again, Friend.