Next Friday will be five years from the day that my dad passed away. I do my best to be in good spirits and dwell on the good over the bad. I usually do a pretty good job of this, but I credit that to the friends and family I have that have helped me get to the point where I can. One of those people is my good friend Jason Whipple. When something like losing a loved one happens to you, there are very few people that can say, "I know what you're going through," that you'll actually believe. Jason's dad passed away a few years before mine did. Jason was bold enough to ask me to go to him to GriefShare, a support group at our church for people that were experiencing loss. There were so many people in the time shortly after my dad died that wanted to help but didn't know what to do or say. It wasn't their fault. I didn't blame them, but it did suck...and hurt a little...that I felt like I had no place to go. Jason's invitation changed that. I can't thank him enough for the invite or for sharing that part of his life with me. There were a lot of tears, a lot of stories, and more vulnerability than even I was used to. I would never have gone on my own...but I'll be eternally grateful that I did.
Anyway, it had been a long time since I had seen Jason. His wife Beth and he left Champaign long before I ever did. They had a baby, and I had seen Beth and their daughter Wren once when they were back to visit before we left, but that was it. Jason is in the Army and had a class to teach in CA last week and thought to let me know to see if we could meet up. That in and of itself meant a lot, but the fact that we actually made it happen was even better. I drove up to Tehachapi to meet them (Beth, Jason, and Wren) for lunch on their way back to New Mexico. I think we sat in Quiznos for almost an hour and a half just chatting, laughing, and hanging out like the good ol' times. Their daughter is 4 now. I can't believe that much time has passed.
Times like these make me a little homesick, though a good number of the people I miss from back home don't even live there anymore themselves. Jason asked me if I like it here. My answer was that I've decided to like it. I think that there's a lot here that I could complain about if I wanted to, but it's a lot easier to be happy if I try to find as many things to like as I can, instead....like the sunshine. I have many friends here, too...and a good handful of pretty close ones. I don't at all want to take them for granted, either, or make them feel unappreciated. Being that many of them are military or new transplants here, themselves, I think they understand where I'm coming from.
Long story short, let me know if you're ever in my area. (For all you midwesterners that haven't experienced desert life, my area is anywhere within a 2-3 hour radius :)). I would love to see you. At the end of the day, Adam often asks me what my favorite part of the day was. Today it was the Whipples. I'd love to be able to say the same about you. Thanks for the visit Jason, Beth, and Wren. You are more important to me than you'll ever know.