we had met in the fall of 2001 when we were both started working part-time for the holidays at Toys R Us. She was pregnant with her fourth baby, i was still barely married. nonetheless, we became instant friends. we even got together for New Years Eve, and we were, once again, instant family friends. both of our husbands were military. and we had one of those friendships that just worked. i loved her dearly and i adored her babies. she even got me going to church where i rededicated my life, and later got baptized with my love. in many ways, i feel like i owe her my life, because, without her asking me to go to church with her, my life would not be what it is today. I would not know my Savior as i do. God is the Great Orchestrator and made all these things work together, blended our lives in such a way that our paths crossed at just the right moment. she was even the first person i called when i found out i was pregnant with my first born the next fall (sorry, honey, you were at work, and i had to tell someone right away so i could tell you face to face. you know me).
(exploring my bestie's back yard)
my first son was born the next May, then at some point, her husband got orders and they were to move to South Dakota. so in January, they were packed up, we said our goodbyes and they took off to their new base. i'm pretty sure i cried so much after she left. we have kept in touch all these years but funds and timing has never allowed us to visit each other. so when her husband called to see if i wanted to fly out, there was no way i could say no. her birthday was in June, just several days after mine. it was his gift to her, a surprise visit from me. and a very hard surprise to keep! every time she said something on my facebook page, or emailed me, i so wanted to shout in capital letters, HEY, GUESS WHAT?! I'LL BE SEEING YOU SOON! but i didn't. i was a good friend and kept quiet.
(view from her backyard. amazing)
i had been up for nearly 24 hours by the time i saw her, but i did not want to go nap and miss a second after so long, so i stuck it out and chatted and just hung out with them. it was so amazing. i am so grateful we had this time together. i was so grateful to be in her house, with her and her family, while she fed me good food, and we chatted the day away.
the next day (i think), we went out and i taught her how to use her camera. eek! that was so fun! i couldn't believe i taught someone, and she actually understood me and my gibberish ways! so these are my photos from when we were outside chatting camera. seriously, it was amazing. who wants to learn manual mode, next?? i kid, i kid. sorta. but for real. who's next?
(once upon a time, in a far away decade, we watched The Simpsons. meet Maggie)
(apparently, dirt tastes good. and Greyson makes funny faces)
it was an amazing first couple of days. the whole trip was amazing, really. and i'm probably going to say amazing a lot, so i apologize in advance if you get sick of it. but it was so so awesome, and best surprise/birthday gift i have ever been part of. Leslie, i love you to pieces! and i am so thankful we were able to see each other in person again.