23: Sunshine on a Rainy Day

23: Sunshine on a Rainy Day

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend.


Have you ever marveled at the sun when it continues to shine through a cloudburst? That is the visual of my treasured friendship with Gen.

We were all packed for our yearly vacation with extended family the summer after our son’s death. We had lost Davis in a traffic fatality the previous June. He loved going to the hot springs, golfing, and connecting with his cousins. The pain of his absence on this trip numbed my senses.

As the sun was setting on our vacation home in British Columbia and we were clearing the dishes from our barbeque, in walked a troupe of young people toting guitars and assorted musical instruments. One young girl was smiling shyly as she walked by with her African drum. Music has always been a big part of our family life. My sister and I grew up singing harmonies and my mom was a pianist. One of my sons is a guitarist. Everyone is gifted with some sort of musicality. The jam session began in earnest on our patio on this hot summer evening. It took me to a place of joy, something dear when you are grieving. Wanting to capture the memories, I began to take photos. My eyes were riveted on Mikelle, the lovely petite teen with the African drum. She and Davis would have been the same age. When my son died at eighteen years old, his future was lost to us. As I watched her, I knew how much Davis would have loved meeting this girl. I felt a respite from my sorrow that evening as we all sang together.

The following summer, I sat on our patio reading the newspaper, clutching my cup of joe and basking in the mid-morning sunlight. A headline snapped me to attention. There had been a terrible car accident down the coastline highway. A teenage boy had fallen asleep behind the wheel, resulting in the death of two of his passengers and serious injury to himself and another. My heart ached for all of the families, knowing how far-reaching the agony would be. I prayed for each of the families as I looked over their photos in the newspaper. My eyes kept going back to a photo of a pretty, blond girl, one whose life was taken in the accident. Soon after, I realized this girl was Mikelle, the one who had played her African drum at our summer place.

Wanting to share with her parents how meaningful the evening with Mikelle had been, I located their address and sent them a letter, along with the photos I’d taken of their daughter. With no expectations of a reply, I was surprised when Mikelle’s mom, Gen, contacted me. From the first time we met, we felt an ease in sharing our grief. We carried an identical burden and fully understood the pain. We also took comfort in each other’s perspectives. Although complete strangers, we felt deeply for each other’s loss and trusted each other with our vulnerabilities. When the weather cooperated, we walked and talked for hours through our parklands. We discovered that we had many interests in common, which prompted diverse conversations and field trips. Being with Gen gave me courage to want to live fully again.

When a friendship is forged from tragic circumstances, an unmatched bond of heart and spirit takes place. I do not believe in coincidences but rather that everything happens for plan and purpose. Both Gen and I believe we were divinely appointed to meet. Despite the pain of loss and brokenness, a beautiful friendship has come from the ashes in our lives. Both of our teenagers are in heaven.

I often think back on the jam session that happened on our patio, and how I lamented that Davis didn’t have enough time here to meet someone like Mikelle. Now a comfort washes over me when I picture them together, on the other side, while Gen and I continue to walk together, propping each other up on this side. Something very special has come from the ache we will carry for a lifetime. This gift of friendship keeps us moving forward. It is lifegiving, like sunshine on a rainy day.

~Sally Walls

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