Spring arrives amid a flurry of wings, bird voices rising with the morning sun, daylight hours stretching perceptibly longer, the first warm breath of promise to come.
On such a day, two years ago, my youngest son’s lifelong friend died in an accident.
She was eighteen.
She was one of the prettiest children I’ve ever seen. Big, brown, doe-like eyes in a round cherub face. Musical, like my son. They grew up in children’s choirs at church, were in band together throughout high school. She played the flute. My son occasionally accompanied her and their other childhood friend on the piano during worship services. All three of them sang:
I’ve had many tears and sorrows
I’ve had questions for tomorrow
There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong
But in every situation
God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come to only make me strong.
Through it all,
Through it all . . .
Their voices blended beautifully. Hers was high, clear, pure, almost ethereal.
I wrote to her, told her so. Said that she needed to sing more often.
Perhaps that note was in her things, still, when her mother began going through them after her death. I do not know.
But an essay she’d written in high school was there.
Its title: My Favorite Childhood Memory.
Her mother copied it, sent it to my son and their other friend—for she wrote of them.
I wondered, when I first learned of this essay, what the memory was. Maybe a birthday celebration, as they were all born in August of three successive years. Maybe working Vacation Bible School or Bible Sports Camp together as youth. Maybe it was the time they went shopping and bought two betta fish that my son named after gospel bass singers, or one of the summer beach trips they took, growing up. The three of them even went to the prom together, once.
My son let me read her essay.
She wrote of Sunday nights when the three of them would go with her family to BoJangles for supper, how they told hysterically funny stories, how she laughed and laughed. She said these were the best times of her childhood, that she would always remember them . . . .
She is gone. Her words, her love for her friends, remain:
You were my favorite childhood memory.
It seems almost like a thank-you letter, now.
My son says once in a while, when he’s out walking laps around the church, exercising his body, easing his mind and his soul—he can hear her singing.
It’s two years today, a Sunday. Tonight her family and friends will gather at BoJangles in her memory.