I got a package in the mail yesterday from a dear friend. Touching, since sending things internationally is both expensive and a hassle. But this was something more than that. Cookie had had someone mail this package, quite literally, from her deathbed. She passed away September 28th, just a few days after it was mailed. It’s difficult to describe how it felt, opening the tissue-wrapped t-shirts and reading the notes written in her distinctive handwriting. I guess I won’t be able to send her a thank-you note, but I hope wherever she is right now, she knows how much we love her.
My kids love it that we know someone named Cookie, and it was an apt nickname, as being around her was always both delightful and delicious. I would never attempt to eulogize her (here’s a link to her obit), but the friendship she shared with my mother and our entire family was inspiring, so let me share a few things about that.
The friendship began with two young army wives, and I can just picture these pretty women with their small children, probably commiserating about day-to-day challenges. They stayed close as Cookie endured a painful divorce — isn’t that when real friendship is made? When times are hard? Of, course, as is typical for military families, physical proximity was short-lived.
There was one visit, about thirty years ago, when my parents were living in Texas and Cookie brought her kids down from Ohio. I was only five or six, but I can remember how fun Cookie was. She wanted to plan an “un-birthday” party to make up for all of the birthdays we had missed celebrating together. And she brought rock candy, a treat I had never tried before. I can remember swimming together at our neighborhood pool, and I can remember how jealous I was of the “future Cowboys cheerleader” shirts Kathryn (my sister) and Holly (Cookie’s daughter) had.
For the next twenty years, the two families never saw each other. This is so significant to me, as I think of so many dear friends who I rarely see. We can love from far away. We can care from far away. They wrote letters to each other, sent pictures. In fact, so many pictures were exchanged that Cookie kept a photo album just for our family.
In 2002, Matt and I moved to Ohio, giving us the opportunity to reunite with Cookie. There was a dinner (dinner at Cookie’s house could be a whole other post — delightful and delicious) and some visiting. And then, the following year, Anne came to Ohio to be a missionary. I couldn’t begin to explain the relationship that developed between Anne and Cookie, but it was a dear friendship. It was Anne’s wedding that brought Cookie to Oregon for the first time, after all of those years.
In reality, my mother and Cookie didn’t have much in common. Their backgrounds were different, and their lives turned out to be very different. What they shared is love for each other. I saw a sign the other day (I sort of hate most of the signs people put up in their houses, but this one was simple enough to be good) that said “love more.” And I guess that’s the point of the whole thing, and of life itself. We don’t have to live nearby, we don’t have to see each other regularly, we don’t have to have anything in common, we just have to reach out to each other, and love more.