Author’s Note . . .
When I started writing Beyond the Lies, a real-life story showed up on the pages. It wasn’t part of the plan, but when I read our sweet memory to myself, it felt like a gentle exhale.
My goal was to finish the book and let Amy find our story on her own. A surprise of sorts. Maybe I’d “reveal” it to her at our favorite lunch stop – the Applebees in Albert Lea, MN. We might get tears in our eyes, but we’d smile and remember and thank God. It would be a blessed time. Thinking about how the new moments would go, I might have clasped my hands in front of my chest and smiled big. I was SO excited. In my mind, I could hear her voice, our laughter, and I would know I’d done something fun to honor her.
Before I could finish the book and we could meet and order the Oriental Chicken Salad with crispy chicken and extra dressing one more time, Amy went to Heaven.
So instead, I get to share our story with you and then you get to experience it again when you read Beyond the Lies. I hope it blesses you.
Amy & Me
It was the summer of 1987. I was introduced to Amelia Bedelia books, The Mississippi Squirrel Revival (on a cassette, sung by Ray Stevens, and played by Amy’s husband Steve), Michigan blueberries (the best!), and shopping in copper country. We went to the dump to bear watch (it was and maybe still is a real thing!) and learned that when someone is a real jerk, they are a J – U – R – K. That lesson was taught to us all by my husband.
All of this and more happened when we joined some of Jonathan’s family at Gitche Gumee Bible Camp.
My favorite moments happened on the shores of Lake Superior. Amy and I rolled up our jeans and walked barefooted in the cold sand for a while. Our friendship was already a natural – we both loved Jesus, our husbands, Steve and Jonathan, who are brothers, her kids, leaves, pumpkins, and teapots.
We also liked counted-cross-stitch, reading, coffee, tea, and mischief – the good kind and how we loved to laugh!
While we walked, Amy asked me if we could be REAL friends. We’d been family and friends for about nine years already. We enjoyed and knew each other in a nice, fun, easy way. The woman walking beside me wanted to go deeper. She hoped we would communicate faithfully in ways that went beyond the surface – more than a card now and then. Our sharing would happen via increased letters, cards, and sometimes phone calls. If we agreed to this relationship, we would pray for each other often – perhaps daily, and when we could, we’d pray together. Our friendship would involve deep trust, and we’d keep each other’s secrets. When we disagreed, as all real friends do, we would always, always, always find our way back to each other. We would forgive no matter what.
We sealed the friendship with a hug, and I wondered how she’d known that this was the desire of my heart since we’d met. She dared to ask for the committed friendship I wished for with her.
Over the years, we fell more and more in love with Jesus and our husbands. We loved her kids so much we cried tears of gratitude for them when we prayed for them. And oh, my goodness, we laughed. We cried. It was a rare treat, but I loved singing with her in church and singing along with the Beach Boys or Rich Mullins loud while we headed somewhere to shop for tiny treasures for our homes. We faced her first cancer and broken bones via the phone and emails.
And as we knew we would, we sometimes disagreed. Thank God we always, always, always found our way back to our promise.
We encouraged each other in real ways that usually involved hazelnut coffee (or a different delicious flavor she’d found). When someone hurt her, they hurt me and vice versa. When we found a Bible verse we loved, we wrote it in our frequent notes to each other. We wrote poetry, and sometimes, we shared those words too.
Then, we shared a diagnosis. Cancer. The kinds that, without a miracle, don’t go away. Prayers. Side effects. Prayers. Tears. Prayers. We shared the Bible verses we loved the most. The ones we needed to hear and the ones we needed to say. And most of all hoped that if He chose not to heal us, we would honor God. More than anyone, Him.
And then, Amy went Home. My heart, so often comforted by her, grieves.
As I write those words, I can hear her gentle reminder, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV
We said I love you a lot throughout the years, and at the end of her earthly journey, they were our last words to each other.
On my home from her that last day, I had to pull the car over at a wayside rest near Blue Earth, MN. Tears soaked the front of my shirt, and my face was tight from the salt they’d left behind.
There were many people there, and I needed to go in but hesitated. Even behind my Covid 19 mask, someone would surely notice my swollen eyes and messy shirt. Then, I thought to myself, “I hope someone does ask – I’ll tell them about Amy!”
Silly me, no one noticed.
By then, I wanted to tell someone about her. When I got back in the car, I talked to God. Then called Jonathan. Then told God again.
Now, over a year since she left here for There, I’m telling you about Amy and me and our walk to remember where promises were made and the long, but not long enough, walk of life where we kept them.
What a Heaven-sent privilege to be loved by and love my Sister-Friend Amy. I love her still and always will.
Until Next Time,