Leaving the Light On

We all lose friends.. we lose them in death, to distance and over time. But even though they may be lost, hope is not. The key is to keep them in your heart, and when the time is right, you can pick up the friendship right where you left off. Even the lost find their way home when you leave the light on.     
Amy Marie Walz


This week did not go as I’d planned.

Isn’t there some old saying that says something like when man makes plans, God laughs?

As usual, I gave God some chuckles.

A  goal for 2018 is to get back to Iowa to visit old friends. Facebook has given me the huge gift of re-establishing connections with many of the people I grew up with in Traer, Iowa. Why I never went back to see these special people when I still lived in Iowa is somewhat of a mystery to me. My best guess is I was simply not ready.

What I never imagined was the possibility that some of the people I wanted to see would not be there when I finally returned.

I’d left Traer when my family moved from this little community after I’d finished eighth grade. My eighth grade year had been one of huge changes for our family. I’d certainly had personal challenges all through that year, centering around school and other extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, I made some very bad choices.

I was searching for something or someone to give me some direction because I’d lost so many things in my personal life. I wanted to belong somewhere regardless of the cost. No one was whispering in my ear, trying to influence me. I was as stubborn then as I am now and I’d made some bizarre my choices. The more off-the-wall those decisions were, the more attention came my way. This became a whirlwind of craziness that lead me to a place that worried my family. My dad had tried all the things he knew to steer me back on track–between his new marriage and my behavior, it became obvious to him this would be a great time to start a new life somewhere else.

When school was out, my brain knew we were leaving. My heart refused to believe it. I made bargains with my dad, hoping he would change his mind. I even tried to be nice to my step-mom, thinking I could win her over. I made nightly deals with God, promising to change my ways if we could just stay—I wanted to stay and start high school with my friends.

No deal.

So, we left the little community where I’d grown up–the place that held most of the people I knew in the whole wide world.

It was my little town—a place where I’d gotten lost both literally, returned home by way of the local town cop, and figuratively, struggling to understand how my mom could have really died and left my sisters and me all alone with a dad who had no clue what to do with the three of us.

Because of these types of thoughts, it’s become very important for me to return to this little place—to see those who are still there so I can feel I’ve had some closure to the part of my childhood that played out there.

I firmly believe Traer holds the key that will enable me to shake up my memories in a way that will reposition the big puzzle representing my life. Right now, there are pieces holding positions just outside of the main puzzle. I cannot figure out how these pieces fit into the big picture. For so many years it’s felt as if the entire puzzle board was slightly off-kilter. There seem to be little patches of pieces waiting for someone to suggest a slight shift in position that will magically draw all those stragglers together with one firm snap.

This week, as I worked on my travel plans, I learned one of those classmates had died.

I was taken so off-guard. I’d never imagined I’d never have the opportunity to see all those people I’d remembered so easily and often over the past fifty plus years.

Now, I’d never have the chance to tell one of them—Nancy—how happy I’d been we’d had the chance to reconnect by way of Facebook. I never had the chance to thank her for how good she’d always made me feel when we were young and she’d hang out with me. She was one of the kids I always wanted to be friends with—even my kid brain knew we had very few common interests. Now, as adults, I wanted to look into her eyes and tell her how much I appreciated and treasured her.

Now, I continue to plan my trip, knowing it is even more important to stay on course. I know how important it is for me to get there and see those people who were and still are the building blocks of the person I am today. These are the people who saw me as my most innocent self and watched as I struggled growing up. They are some of the most real and most kind people I’ve ever known—they need to know that and hear it from me.

Regardless of how I reshuffle dates, there won’t be enough time there this trip.I can’t do it all in one visit—I can get it started, though.

Once again, God’s message to me stresses how vital it is to let those I love know how important they are to me.

Today, I grieve not only the loss of my childhood friend, Nancy, but I feel the loss of an opportunity to sit and talk with her, adult to adult, laughing as we share our life experiences, rejoicing over our successes while encouraging each other over the failures. Each shared moment would have added a few more pieces to our respective puzzle boards, re-establishing those connections we’d unknowingly set up all those years ago.

God bless you, Nancy. My world certainly has been brighter for having known you. See you on the other side.

“A spiritual connection with someone lasts forever, even when physical presence fades.”
― Danielle Barone

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you all. Remember to tell those you love how much you love them.


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