Deeply and dearly
We came in second place that day. She drove over four hours on Friday, played all day Saturday, and made the return trip 24 hours after her arrival. Not only is she phenomenal at ultimate, she is one of the greatest friends I have ever had, which those 24 hours illustrated so clearly. She arrived at my home joyful and grateful and uncomplaining. We caught up over a meal and shared our hearts (per usual) late into the night. She awoke excited and eager and energized. And I watched her play with pride, her competitive spirit and awe-inspiring skill coupled so beautifully with virtue, with humility, fortitude, and patience. When we broke for lunch in a big group, she easily struck up conversation with people she’d just met. When I misplaced my phone, she dropped everything to help look for it. When it came time to decide whether or not to stay for evening prayer (as opposed to trying to beat traffic in the long drive ahead of her), she stayed. We hugged goodbye, sweaty and worn out and happy. Another short visit come and gone.
Tomorrow, my dear friend Lauren is entering the convent. And while I was tempted to name this post “On Losing Another Lauren” (see here), this is an entirely different experience. It’s hard to explain, and it’s so close to my heart, but the profound sense I get is that her entering the Servidoras is far more a gain than it is a loss. When we had our last phone call yesterday, we said, This isn’t goodbye. Of course, we won’t be able to call each other at any time like we’ve done for years. We won’t have the same freedom to connect instantly and share readily and plan visits to reunite. But we will be united in prayer, and in the Eucharist, mysteriously and profoundly. We will write letters, embracing the art of slow, deliberate connection. And we will—I have no doubt of it—remain close. In fact, I have great trust that our friendship will grow even stronger in this season.
It almost doesn’t seem fair to attempt this undertaking, this summation of what Lauren means to me or how her entering affects me or how God has blessed us in our friendship, wildly and beyond our comprehension. It isn’t remotely possible to communicate rightly from the depths of my heart. And it isn’t possible to recall the number of times I have said to her, I haven’t told this to anyone else. The hours we’ve spent, often on the phone and on the road, listening and sharing and laughing and storytelling. The comfort and familiarity and joy I’ve felt at seeing a call from her. The unanticipated bonding that can happen in the parking lots of a Joann Fabrics and a dentist office. (You really had to be there.) The support and compassion and understanding she’s offered me, in a way no one else possibly could. But I’d rather fall short in my insufficient attempt than fail to make it at all.
So, my sweet Lauren, in these final hours before you take this bold leap of faith into the beautiful unknown, I so sincerely want you to know how proud I am of you, how profoundly God has used you for good in my life and the lives of countless others, how much you inspire me to pursue sainthood with you.
I love you, Lauren. Deeply and dearly.