Putting on my clothes that morning, I chuckled over the color combination, knowing that it was fitting for the occasion. There are times when you don’t have words, even calling upon all my years of therapy experience and ministry background, you still don’t have the words. So here it goes…It all started many moons ago, 19 years to be exact. Sarah sent me an Instant Message during my first week on the job, asking me some random, off the wall question, which developed into a fast friendship. We bonded over our love of dogs, sense of adventure, eating, and the Wayne County Fair. We always planned our mode of eating attack on the fair…which way to walk to maximize our intake consumption, plus take in all the sights. We laughed because it was so silly, but nevertheless, entertained us greatly. When I first met Sarah, she refused to eat Chinese food. “It has too many vegetables” she claimed. I rolled my eyes, and eventually, Sarah overcame her aversion to Chinese food, and decided she loved it. Thank God! We enjoyed many a meal at our favorite local joint. I think Sarah may have even tried a vegetable or two.
Early on in our friendship, Sarah convinced me to join a softball team with her. Not being the softball type, it was an experience. Sarah said I was the only person she knew who caught the ball with the top of her head rather than using the mitt. Ok, so it only happened once, I did use my mitt the rest of the time. And hello, it’s not like I did it on purpose. Besides, the only reason I joined the softball team was for the trip for ice cream after the game.
Sarah introduced me to Put-in-Bay. Our birthdays are six months and one day apart, so we would always celebrate our birthday and half birthday together. In June, that always meant PIB. PIB for us was rolling around the island in the golf cart, eating lobster bisque in a bread bowl at the Boardwalk, and just relaxing and having philosophical discussions about the meaning of life. One day, our discussion centered around finding our dream relationship, and really having that soul connection. As we were walking, a gentleman was walking towards us, staring fixated at Sarah. So fixated was he, that a park bench reached out and grabbed him and he went tumbling. We got to chuckling, after of course we asked if he was ok, which turned into out and out uproaring laughter. The debate started on whether he was looking at Sarah’s soul or her assets.
Sarah and I’s relationship was the definition of true friendship. I was the maid of honor in her and Jimi’s wedding. After I accepted, I found out I had to wear a Christmas sweater. Jokingly I asked if she was serious, and I got the look. Christmas was serious business for Sarah. She always watched the Hallmark Channel and could tell you the ending of any of their Christmas movies, actually probably any of their movies. Christmas Eve we always spent together, making a family dinner, going to church, then opening presents and playing train dominoes, which she always accused me of cheating. Well, we couldn’t change the line up because our initials spelled BJ’S. And we would snicker, and rock out to 80’s music, and eat ice cream, and I usually won. That was that. One Christmas Eve, Sarah was unnaturally excited about giving me a present. I remember thinking, this is going to be good. When I opened it, it was a picture that she painted on wood paneling. “Look, I get to give the artist a custom art piece.” I will treasure that painting forever.
We went house hunting together. Her realtor was confused about how I fit into the picture, since it was Sarah and her husband buying the house, and one day finally asked me how I fit. “I’m their therapist”, I said straight-faced, and she nodded like she understood. Sarah just rolled her eyes, and we laughed. Sarah respected my career choice, but was adamant that I wasn’t to “shrink her”. This is where I would roll my eyes and shake my head back at her. Sarah supported my interest in learning, and sometimes volunteered to be a guinea pig for me, only after she heard all the details. One evening, her and her son, Kevin, were learning some different yoga moves to help stretch. I showed Kevin how to put his legs up the wall, which he proceeded to do, but then somehow managed to go through the wall. There was that moment of silence, then we all burst into laughter. Kevin’s dad was not finding it funny at all and pitched a little fit, which turned our laughter into hysterics, and possibly made us pee a little. A few years after that, not too long after Sarah’s first surgery, she made sure to make the trek to New York to be there for my ordination, and proudly watched me take my vows. Of course, afterwards, she always joked about the irreverent reverend, but it is what it is.
Cancer is a thief. Yes, the tie-dye t-shirt and purple Converses you would find fitting for your celebration of life, Sarah. Just as you would all the Christmas sweaters and sports gear that people wore to honor you. I am so grateful to spend that last day with you. Your last words to me “you couldn’t wait to get your hands all over me” as I did some Reiki on you, made me laugh. My last words “I love you Sarah”, I hope you heard. God bless you, and I’ll see you on the other side.