Linda was my sister-in-law, one of my husband's older sisters. She and I had a rocky relationship over the years, sometimes not seeing eye-to-eye on things, sometimes arguing, etc., but mostly loving. My background was the polar opposite of hers. She was raised in a Christian home where Christ was front and center. Her parents were missionaries in Ontario, Canada, and Linda learned the ropes of ministry growing up. Before her parents went to the Canadian mission field, they served in pastoral ministry in the US. My background was filled with violent alcoholism, abuse of all kinds, and no mention of Jesus Christ except in a fit of rage.
Over the years, through our ups and downs, Linda became my true friend.
True friends are hard to come by. I am blessed to have some true friends in my life even to this day, including my four wonderful sisters. (Sisters are beyond special, but that's another blog post!) But I no longer have Linda. Linda died young - at age 54 - and that was more than 7 years ago. I still miss her. I still long for her friendship at times. Sometimes I'm angry with her for leaving me....as though it's all about me.
Let me tell you what I miss most:
1. I could call Linda any time, night or day, and she never once asked what I wanted or why I was calling. Think about that. How often do we want people to state their business so we can get off the phone? Linda treated me as though she had been sitting by the phone, waiting for my call, and had all the time in the world, just for me.
2. Linda always, without fail, pointed me to Jesus Christ. We would talk about our burdens, our kids, our extended families, our ministries, etc., and every time, we came back around to Christ.
3. Linda didn't keep track of stuff. She never kept track of who called who last, how long it had been between calls (we lived 750 miles apart, calls were not always frequent). She didn't keep track! That meant she didn't keep score. "Even Steven" did not exist to her and thus, friendship was free to flourish. And flourish it did.
Linda had patience for my past. What I mean is, none of my problems were ever too much for her to bear with me. I came from a pretty ugly place; it stays with you. It's a rare person who can allow you to feel all the stuff that coming from there leaves you with.
I could go on and on. What a great gift her friendship was to me!
When she was sick, in her last days, I called her every single day, sometimes twice and three times a day. I had to hear her voice. She knew she was dying. She would ask about my kids, each one by name. I could hear the smile in her voice. And when I hung up the phone, I cried. Every time. I knew I was going to miss her terribly. In one of our last phone calls, she said, "I love you."
I will see her again!