A Gift From God

Last night I got to meet up and spend an evening with David and Janice Walker, the parents of my best friend Emma Walker, who is my inspiration behind this blog.

For those who are new to this blog Emma passed away in May 1998 due to complications from Cystic Fibrosis.

We met in the parking lot and exchanged excited hugs and greetings. It was so good to seem they again. They are looking so, so well!  We spent the evening catching up on what we’ve been up to over the last few years, they told me about their grand kids and I shared bits about my Kilimanjaro climb. So many laughs shared and memories reminisced.

I shared what it was like on Kilimanjaro, a mountain I climbed in Emma’s memory, and I shared the quiet joy of reaching the summit and the emotional moment Donna and I shared when we first caught sight of the sign on the summit up ahead. Tears spilled over our eyelids as we spoke of Emma and the beautiful legacy she has left behind for everyone who knew her. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, we still miss her as much today as the day we had to say goodbye. But there is joy in my tears as I stand in such gratitude for all the gifts her life has given me.

At one point Emma’s dad’s job was based in Johannesburg and we remembered a trip Emma took out from the UK to South Africa where she came and spent some time with me in Cape Town and then I went back up to Johannesburg with her to spend a week with her and her family. I joined them on a trip to Sun City during my time up there and we laughed at the memory of Emma and me going into an enclosure with the lions and a baby lion biting me on the back!! Apparently there was swarm of locusts while driving that hit the car but I don’t really remember that ~ no doubt Emma and I were oogling some cute boy in the car driving behind us! We laughed at the memories and I smiled at the precious time I got to spend with my best friend again before she returned to the UK.

Chatting with her folks last night, I got some closure on something I had always wondered about.  In the last few years of her life, Emma and her family immigrated back to their native land, England.  I missed my best friend something terrible in those years and as it was before the time of email and Skype and smartphones Emma and I used to hand write letters to each other and occasionally we would surprise each other with a phone call that would usually end up in us screaming for the first five minutes in pure excitement at who was on the other end of the telephone!

It’s the times we were so crazy,
that people thought we were high.
It’s the times we laughed so hard,
we couldn’t help but cry.
It’s all the inside jokes
and “remember whens”.
those are all the reasons
that we became best friends!

I remember the excitement of checking the post box and finding letters from the UK addressed to me in Emma’s handwriting.  Always filled with news about what she was up to and how she was doing and Emma always did crazy colourful drawings of her updates that would fill the pages too. I’m almost grateful in a way we didn’t have email back then. I loved her letters and I have all of them still today stored in large box that I occasionally pull out and re-read again and laugh at the memories we shared.

In some of her last letters to me she told me how she couldn’t do as much as she could before because she would get tired more quickly and she mentioned how she couldn’t walk too far without feeling exhausted. But in the same letter she would draw me crazy little pictures of her funky little car that she had to drive her around in! She always saw the bright side of life and found positives in the negatives and she was always making me laugh, even in the pages of her letters.  We may have lived in different countries over the last few years but at times it seemed like there was no distance between us at all.

One thing Emma never shared with me was the fact that she was added to the transplant list. I had always wondered why.  I think we all know how long people can wait on a transplant list, sometimes years.  Emma’s mom shared with me last night how quickly it had all happened, within two weeks of Emma going on the transplant list her beeper that she was given to carry around with her at all times went off to say it was time.

Her mom went on to share with me that the people at the Fire Station where she worked didn’t even know about her illness. I remember when I started this blog earlier this year, old school friends of ours emailed me to say they had no idea about Emma’s illness. I smile deep down inside every time I hear that and again last night as Emma’s mom shared what Emma’s work colleagues had shared with her.  They just didn’t know. That was Emma in a nutshell. She was always smiling and never letting Cystic Fibrosis get her down. She was a fighter and she didn’t want people to feel sorry for her. She got up every morning and put on her best outfit and headed out into the world with a smile on her face no matter how she felt. She lived. Fully. Right to the end.

“There are souls in this world who have the gift of finding joy everywhere, and leaving it behind them when they go.”   ~ Frederick William Faber

I know now that had Emma had more time she would have shared her latest news with me in her next hand written letter and no doubt it would have included a crazy drawing of her beeper she had to carry around!

There are many times that I wish Heaven had email, Skype and smartphones so I could tell Emma all about things I get up too and how I would love to share with her about my evening with her parents last night. But I know I don’t need to for I know she was there with us last night and I know her smile is as big as mine today.

I gave David and Janice a small gift from Kilimanjaro that I personally carried and walked with every day that I spent on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. A little something for them to remember this trip that I did in honour of their beautiful daughter.  It may seem small and insignificant to some but I hope it’s something that makes their hearts swell with pride knowing what an inspiration Emma’s life has been to me and how her journey still touches and inspires me today.

David, Janice and Tracy when you read this post I know the tears will no doubt spill over again. I cried too while I wrote it but know that my heart expands with such pride to be able to call myself her friend and I smile through the tears and have such gratitude for the beautiful gifts your daughter and sister has left me, how her strength and courage helps me find my own as I go on this journey called life.

After dinner we headed across the road for some coffee where this picture was taken. Thank you David and Janice for such a wonderful evening catching up & remembering.

There is one thing I know for sure, one day when it’s my time to leave this world, it will be a happy day for me.  Not only will I get to see all of my loved ones and friends that have passed before me (and there are many), I will get to see my best friend again who I know will be waiting for me with open arms ready to continue our friendship right where we left off…!!

She touched lives while she was alive and she continues to touch all our lives with all the gifts she left behind for us. Thankful to God for loaning me the bestest friend anyone could ever ask for.

I am forever changed by her presence in my life.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Natalie
    Nov 21, 2012 @ 15:47:22

    FRIENDSHIP is like a tree. It is not MEASURED on how TALL it could be, but is on how DEEP the ROOTS have grown.

    much Lღvє
    Natz

    Reply

  2. lvsrao
    Nov 21, 2012 @ 15:49:06

    HEART TOUCHING.
    Friends Are Unforgettable
    Friends are like sketch pencils
    they color our lives…
    Good friends are like Stars,
    We may not always see them,
    However, they stay forever beyond words beyond time..

    Reply

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