Hugs and tears. More hugs and immensely happy tears when I found my glowing friend waiting for me at the airport. I had just arrived in Austin, Texas, to celebrate the wedding of one of my favorite people in the entire world. I remember drinking in that moment in time – her embrace and her friendship were exactly what I needed. I was nervous about being away from my boys, but I couldn’t wait to visit with friends, help with wedding preparations, and finally take a little time to relax after such an intensely stressful year.
I met Amy in the summer of 1998. I was only seventeen years old, but I was on my way to living out my childhood dream – flying to Moscow, Russia.
We had come together with about 80 other college-aged students from around the world by volunteering to live and serve in a Russian orphanage for nine months. Everyone had a different job at this training center. Some of the students helped to care for the young orphans. Other students worked mostly with city outreach. Amy was in charge of the kitchen, where she prepared enough food for the 425 international students, families, orphans, teachers, and visitors each day. I traveled to another orphanage in the city during the week to teach English as a second language to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade children.
After our long days, we liked to sneak away to drink chai, (Russian tea), instead of going to choir practice. Sometimes we just wanted to sit and chat about our day or our families back home. Other times it was nice to curl up in the large window sills of the old buildings and just enjoy the quiet together. There were other nights where we would meet up with our friends, Joanne from New Zealand and Amber from Detroit, to light a candle, listen to music, eat delicious Russian cakes, and paint our nails crazy colors.
Amy, Amber, and I traveled to a small church every Sunday outside of Moscow. To get there, we had to ride a bus to the metro station named Petrovska Razamovskya, where we would board a train that took us to the outskirts of the city of Zelenograd. Then we would walk through a beautiful forest to get to our wonderful little church.
Even though we were under tremendous stress from our jobs at this training center, it was one of the most treasured times of my life. The friendships that were born in Moscow have been the most wonderful gift a girl could ever ask for!
It was now June 2009. When I arrived in Texas, we fell into catching up with each other just like old times, and we decided to go grab a light dinner as we waited for Amber to fly in from Michigan. We drove to one of my favorite Austin restaurants – HULA HUT – where we munched on their yummy mango quesadillas, and continued gab about all of our latest news.
A couple of times over our meal, Amy glanced over and said that a guy who happened to be sitting off to the side was wearing the same shirt her brother was wearing that day. A little while later she surprisingly realized that it was her brother – and her mom – enjoying a meal and catching up, themselves. Amy’s brother was in the United States Air Force, and he had recently come home from his latest deployment to Afghanistan. My friend had told me over the phone that on returning home, her brother had received the most devastating news. His marriage had ended much like my own. I looked over in his direction, and I couldn’t help but feel a deep ache for my friend’s hurting brother. This young man that I’d heard so much about over the years was going through the same nightmare that I had just come through.
Before we left, we stopped by their table for a quick chat. It was so good to see Amy’s mom again. I have always loved her warm smile, her motherly advice, and her beautiful laugh. I had enjoyed getting to visit their family a few times over the years. I had stayed at their house, spent time with her three youngest brothers, and had gone on vacation with Amy and her sister, but Joe was the only family member that I had never met. We took a few minutes to catch up, I showed them pictures of my boys, and we chatted until it was time to go get our friend from the airport. As we said our goodbyes, I remember thinking that Amy’s brother seemed like such an incredibly nice guy, and that I felt horrible for the pain, similar to my own, that he had gone through recently. I hoped that one day soon he would find begin to find his own healing.
It was time to head to the airport to pick up Amber. Our other friend, Joanne, was flying in the next day. The festivities could finally begin! I was ready to put aside my heartache, enjoy relaxing for the first time in longer than I could remember, and celebrate my friend’s beautiful wedding. Much later, I discovered that her brother and I were both experiencing the same feelings – we knew that our dreams of fairytale endings had been shattered, but he was incredibly excited for his sister, and I was over the moon with happiness for the friend who had been like a sister to me for so many years.
Joe and I were here to celebrate in her happiness, and although our broken hearts would never have guessed it, the dawn of a new happily ever was just beyond the horizon…
~ Our Story ~
I am so excited to begin a new series of posts here in my little corner of the world that...