LOVE BEYOND TEARS

LOVE BEYOND TEARS

From Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul

Love Beyond Tears

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people stay for a while and leave their footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.

Flavia

Julie was five years old when we first met in 1967. “This is Julie. She’s my friend.” My daughter, Susan, introduced us one morning after kindergarten.

The girls became fast friends. They were inseparable, singing silly songs as they squeezed into one overstuffed living room chair laughing until tears streamed down their faces.

Julie’s mom and I took turns transporting the toothless and giggly twosome back and forth from our home to theirs. But the trips ended when my Susan was stricken with a brain tumor in 1969 at the age of seven.

During Susan’s twenty-one month illness, Julie never stopped visiting. The girls played finger games when Susan’s eyesight dimmed. Julie flipped phonograph records and kept right on singing with Susan, never asking why Susan no longer raced through the house, spun the hula hoop, attended ballet classes or ice-skated. Whenever Susan phoned to invite her friend for dinner, Julie jubilantly arrived to share a meal at Susan’s bedside.

In June 1971, Susan died. Julie visited a few weeks later to spend time with our family, but her best friend was gone. Seeing the sadness in Julie’s eyes, I told her that Susan loved Jesus and was probably singing with the angels in heaven.

Julie continued to drop by occasionally. On my first Mother’s Day following Susan’s death, Julie popped in with a red rose. A tradition was started that Sunday in 1972. Julie has never missed giving me a rose and special card on Mother’s Day.

That isn’t all. Throughout her school years, Julie invited me and my husband, Phil, to important class activities. At graduation, I watched her receive her diploma and knew Susan was there in spirit with her classmates. And when Julie, a member of the yearbook staff, handed me the 1980 yearbook, I opened it to find a dedication to Susan.

Before long, Julie was engaged and planning her wedding to Rob. I was not forgotten. At her shower, Julie’s sister, Allison, quietly whispered, “If Susan were here, she’d be up front with Julie.”

Another surprise awaited me on Julie and Rob’s wedding day. I responded to Julie’s telephone request to come to her home. She was waiting for me with a photographer. As she pinned a corsage on my dress and the camera clicked, she invited Phil and me to sit behind her parents in church.

And when Julie and Rob bought their home in Gardner, Massachusetts, of course, we were invited over.

Julie and I have become good friends. Our paths cross, part and unite again. Although we both lead busy lives, when we get together, it’s like we never missed a moment. We meet for lunch and enjoy catching up on each other’s lives. Julie asks about Phil, our son, Michael, and daughter, Kristin, their spouses and our delightful grandchildren. I listen as she fills me in on her mom and dad, her two sisters, Allison and Tammy, and their families.

Julie, like the five-year-old I first met, can still enthusiastically bring happiness into a dull day. She never fails to mention Susan and the meaning of their deep friendship at such a young age. She remarked, “I never knew Susan was that sick.”

I asked why she continued to visit. “After all, you were only nine when Susan died.”

“I felt like I belonged in your house. I was always there with Susan. My mother never told me to come; it was what I wanted to do.”

Julie isn’t afraid to say, “I know whenever I’m going through a hard time, Susan is up there for me.”

Julie continues to enrich my life. Over the telephone, I learned of her pregnancy. “If it’s a girl, I’d like to use the name Susan for her middle name,” Julie announced.

This time, I burst into tears. How did Julie know I secretly prayed for Susan’s name to be carried on?

Carley Susan Walsh was born October 10, 1997. When I cuddled her in my arms, I felt such love.

For seven years now, I’ve enjoyed all the hugs and kisses just like my other grandchildren. To Carley I am Granny Phyllis. I’m always invited to her ballet recitals, birthday parties and all the highlights in her life. Julie’s joyful, gentle, loving spirit and compassionate heart never stop touching my life.

Today, I remember two five-year-old girls, Susan and Julie, whose paths crossed, then divided, but in truth, never really separated. Through their lives, God has taught me lessons I might never have understood otherwise.

I believe God, in his ultimate plan, brought Julie into my life to walk beside me, to share, care and remind me that God never leaves us comfortless.

Phyllis Cochran

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