Back in the fall of 2008, we stepped out of our comfort zone at the new church that we were attending and went to a Sunday school class as well as to the worship service. As I looked around the sanctuary where this particular class was held, we were among the younger people attending the class of about 10 to 15, except for a girl sitting a couple of pews in front of us. She was obviously a college student. She had that sense of verve and optimism that only comes from those fresh from the roost. She smiled, she talked, she shared--she had opinions on theology. Uh. I was floored. I was 29, and I was still very timid about sharing my theological points of view. To say this was intimidating was a little bit of an understatement. She wasn't there every Sunday, but she was there often.
Then, in October, our church hosted a Fall Festival. There was a fantastic turnout from the community. I had volunteered for the face painting booth (remember, this was pre-Elsie), and as I got overwhelmed with children wanting designs on their faces, a scarecrow came over and sat down with me, helping me out. That funny scarecrow was none other that college girl from Sunday school. We finally met, and we hit it off big-time. Her name was Jill, and she was not intimidating at all, not in real life. She was the definition of "people person". We talked and talked and talked.
We would make a point to seek Jill out at snack time and chat it up. She brought her boyfriend to church one Sunday and introduced us. She came and made cards at my house when I had people over. She brought her sister to hang out and watch movies for a girls' night (I still feel bad that I picked terrible movies). She came and visited us in the hospital and took the most amazing pictures of day-old Elsie. In fact, our pastor asked me if we knew her when he came to visit me at the hospital, because she had posted on her Facebook page about getting hold a day-old baby. Yup. We knew her. She told people we were her "married friends." Haha.
I needed a last-minute babysitter for Elsie once, and I called her, then wrote her a thank-you note for being available at the last minute, and she commented that she hadn't received a thank-you note for babysitting before; I had to remind her that this was because I hadn't called her as "the babysitter" but as my friend.
Jill always had something brewing. She loved people. She loved travel. She loved photography. And she loved to talk. (Me, too!) And we loved having her around. We prayed her through her summers on mission in Latvia and Tunisia, and called on her more and more to come sit in the house after Elsie was in bed while we went to Christmas parties, etc, because she was so chill about it--she would study for finals while the kids were asleep. She became an RA in her dorm, so we talked residence life (Eli & I met through RA stuff in college). She came and visited us after Oscar was born. She went with me to see Tango Inferno at the OPAC while Eli was gone to JAG school. She worked the nursery and Sunday school, so she got to see the kids pretty often, and I got to see her when I worked the nursery on the same Sunday. She was a busy girl as she got further and further into school, and we didn't see her as much.
And so it happened that Eli was checking Facebook from Charlottesville, when he saw that Jill got an internship for the summer after graduation and was looking for a place to live on the cheap. He told her to call me, and she did. It was perfect. Jill came to live with us the week after graduation. She was a PR intern by day and a second mother to my children by night. She was not afraid to change diapers, bathe them, and put them to bed. She would take out the trash when it got full, and empty and reload the dishwasher of her own volition. I joked with Eli over the phone that she was a better wife that I am. (But was it a joke? Probably not. Haha.) And Jill was willing to be silly with us, dressing up like cows for Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A. Now that's true friendship. :)
During the summer, with my people-loving friend around, I went out on a limb, out of my comfort zone, and hosted a weekly dinner for some of the young singles and college students from church that were hanging around for the summer with nothing to hook them in (our church doesn't do Sunday school classes in the summer, and we didn't do small groups, either). We had a blast. I never would have had the guts to do that without Jill around because she's just so easy with people when I feel terribly awkward.
When the end of the summer came, Eli and I went out on a date, and a good portion of the wait-for-your-dinner time was spent talking about Jill. We loved having her around. It was coming close to the end of her stay with us, but we let her know that she could stay with us as long as she needed to since her job extended her employment until October. We were delighted when she said yes.
Elsie and Oscar loved having Jill here, too, by the way. Jill's way with people extends to the shorter crowd. She's the oldest, so she's had younger people around her for most of her life. I'm the baby, and I never really did, so I loved watching Jill play with the kids. They loved playing with her. Oscar loved cuddling with her (still does).
When Jill moved home in October, it was hard to readjust to life without the extra set of hands, without the girlfriend to talk to about anything and everything after the kids were in bed. The room at the end of the hall, which was supposed to be Elsie's big girl room, still sits vacant, and Elsie still thinks of it as "Jill's bed." And when we see a green car, she points out "Jill's car." We miss her, but we are so excited for her newest adventures.
Two weeks ago (already?) we drove south of Atlanta to watch Jill be wed to a really amazing man. The wedding and reception were beautiful and a perfect mix of "Jill" and "Scott" styles. And there was dancing! With two toddlers, we didn't stay for the whole thing since the kids were getting antsy (okay, intolerable), so we didn't get to say goodbye before they left for their honeymoon road trip to their temporary new home in the cold north. Thankfully, they will eventually be settling in the same town as my in-laws, and we will hopefully get to see them a few times a year. Oh, yeah, and we have cell phones and Skype now, too, in this millenium.
So, my friend Jill, in all her youth, is refreshing for me to be around. She loves God and she loves people in a way I only wish I could. And she's very honest--maybe transparent is a better word--but not in an offensive way. I love that about her. Along with a million other things. I don't think that at 22 I had half as much going on as she does. I just consider myself blessed that she doesn't think we're too dorky (or too old!) to associate with. :)
Jill, we love you. We're so proud of you. And we're proud of the way you and Scott are starting your life together. We're excited for your adventures, because I can't imagine you not having adventures.
(P.S. You called earlier when I was in the middle of finishing this. Coincidence?)