The Things I Need to Say

twilla

So you’ve been gone over a year now, and I thought of you as I was driving through Rockwall, of all things, how much I wanted to hang out with you, pick your brain, and process my life. We did this, you and me, usually over unsweet tea (that we sweetened with Stevia) and wood-fired pizza or that fig salad at Zanatas.

You may or may not know this, but I still talk to you, sometimes. In my head. I tell you what’s going on, and then I wait for your answer, or I try to figure out what you would say. And inevitably I would “hear” your voice in my head, with that Twilla sass, tinged with Cajun spice.

You would be angry at the injustices I am processing now. You would fire yourself up alongside me. You would pursue that person who strays as a rabid dog looks for a victim, and you would kill them with love and truth. You never were one to mince words or say things sweetly. No, you were fierce that way, but you said things straight with the undergirding of love, and folks loved you right back for it.

You would grieve at what I’m grieving. You would take up my sadness as if it were your own. We, together, would commiserate.

But then we would laugh because you would tell a funny story from your past. And for a moment, I would forget what plagued me, and I would have that kind of longing that made me want to be more like you, so very alive in the moment you could practically eat that moment as if it were crawfish plopped in heaps on newsprint.

I would tell you what you already cheered for: I finally made that bestseller list, friend. You saw it from afar, and your words reassured me probably sixty-three times. You bought my books like they were candy and you doled them out to all sorts of unsuspecting folks. Poor things.

What I think about a lot right now is that time I saw you last. You were hours from dancing heaven’s streets, and I had so little to offer other than grief and an ache in the pit of my gut. Looking back, I wish I had planned better, grabbed a list of worship songs complete with lyrics, so that I could sing over you more intelligently.

But I know that you know that what I did sing was heartfelt. About amazing grace, how sweet the sound. About worshipping the God who is sovereign and big and confusing at times. (Yes, I’ve asked Him why He took you from this earth. Did you know you’ve left behind a you-fashioned hole?)

Because here’s the truth, Twilla. I loved you. And I love you still. And when you love someone, it’s nearly impossible to imagine them NOT on this earth. So I continue to talk to you, process with you, and remind myself that you are more alive than ever, and most likely you are laughing.

This week I had a follow up mammogram that (blessedly) turned out to be normal. But you can imagine I thought through all the implications. I told Jesus I really didn’t want to walk the cancer journey, but that if I had to, I wanted to fight it like a banshee as you did. When the radiologist’s words came back clear, I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. And then I mourned you again. Because that journey was excruciating. Not only for you (of course) but for your amazing, sweet family and your well-loved friends.

Don’t worry. I am not sainting you. I know your feisty imperfections, impatience, and control issues. I have so many issues too. But we were able to see beyond those to forge friendship and love each other despite ourselves.

I miss you, Twilla. I love you, too. I swore last year I would live a life more intentional, more alive in the moment. I am happy to report that I have done more of that. I’m happier, actually. More cheerful. Finding the good when the bad threatens. So take heart in knowing even though we don’t eat awesome food and discuss our perplexities on this earth, you have had an impact on me. I’m grateful we found each other, loved each other, and worshipped together in your last moments here.

You were a good friend. And I can’t wait to hug your neck on the other side someday.

But for now, I’ll just stay crazy and talk to you as if you were here.

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