Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Persisting Joy, Resisting Joy

Part 4 in this story series ...

I don't know about you, but I always know that someone is the truest of friends when they love me and care for me in spite of myself.

Joy was one of those friends.

Three months after my father died, I landed a job at a much larger newspaper in Pennsylvania, hugged Joy goodbye and set off for "better things" in my career. However, I was a sick kitten emotionally, sinking into the blackness of grief.

At my new job and new location, I knew no one. I could have forged new friends, and as an extrovert, that's pretty easy for me. But I chose to isolate myself. I'd wake at 6 a.m., go to work, return home by 4:30, eat dinner at 5 ... and fall asleep at 6 p.m. I'd sleep for 12 hours and repeat the cycle the next day. On weekends, I slept. And slept. And slept. I turned down offers from colleagues for weekend outings and parties ... and slept.

My slumber of sadness lasted nine months. During that time, Joy persistently called me. Sometimes I returned the message. Usually I screened my calls and listened to her plaintiff sweet voice on the machine ... and then just went back to sleep.

Joy never stopped caring about me, even when I resisted her. And when I "woke" from my depression, she was still my faithful friend. She didn't have any expectations of me or any self-involved motives. She was just kind. She was just being Joy.

I realized how much she valued our friendship, when one weekend she took a three-hour drive with her 6-year-old daughter so that they could visit me. They showed up with sleeping bags and camped out on my tiny living room floor.

Joy was not going to let go of her friendship with me, even though I'd given her every indication that I was not worth it. During her visit, she regaled me with hilarious stories of the antics of my former newsroom colleagues and of the people in the community. We talked long into the night hours about Bonnie and Clyde and speculated about their post-prison futures. We ate Chinese, toured the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, watched Chick Flicks and inhaled one bowl of popcorn after another.

That "slumber party" weekend woke me into realizing that even if a person doesn't know God, they can still be the kindest and most noblest of people.

I honestly can't remember if God came up as a topic of discussion that weekend. All I can tell you is that Joy was the sincerest of people, someone who cared despite our differences of belief.

Joy was my true friend.

And so when she called a few months later to tell me that she had breast cancer, I realized it was my turn to be the friend to her that she'd been to me.

Tune in for part 5 of the story ...

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