In midst of all my digging, I came across some interesting tidbits from my childhood. I’m one of those “memories should be cherished” people, so I have a lot of stuff. I found both mine and my dad’s blessing gowns (two separate ones, we didn’t share one.) My graduation cap and tassel, some programs and report cards from grade school, a box with my coin collection and a box of old letters. I thought it would be a trip to read back through the letters, so I dug them out.
The first layer was from a guy I met at Church camp. He wasn’t much of a writer, but I was. Apparently I ‘lettered’ him to death. Most of his responses consisted of one page and said basically the same thing. But, he was a pen pal and we got along well at camp. I’ve always been wordy with a pen, so maybe he’s forgiven me for using up so much postage and ink on him. Despite the brevity of his letters, there were at least a lot of them.
I remember being really excited to get my mail. I had an obsession with it. (Come to think of it, I still do. I think my mail man hates me.) I used to sign up for catalogs and stuff just so I’d get something with my name on it. I had several pen pals from camp but only two that were really consistent. I saved my letters and re-read them occasionally. I know a few have been lost here and there over the years, but I did try to hang on to them. At one point, I went through a massive ‘de-junking’ phase (it didn’t last long) and I nearly threw them out. What point was there in keeping old letters from Jr. High? Some part of me just couldn’t do it. I don’t know if it was my Granny Boo’s genes (she has practically every card she’s ever received.) or my own sentimentality, but I’m glad I hung on to them.
Ivy and our friend Micah at Church camp.
Under my guy friend’s letters were several others from various girlfriends (girls are much better at correspondence) and then three from my friend Ivy. Those got my attention right away. Ivy and I met at Junior High Church camp and were friends instantly. She was the sweetest person I’d ever met, and pretty too. Everyone liked Ivy. She bubbled and had a light inside of her that didn’t go out. She was so full of love for Jesus that it was just visible, plain and simple. We became pen pals and corresponded for a couple of years. We prayed each other through some really tough times and even though we only saw each other one week out of the year, we were good friends. When she moved to another state at the end of those 2 years, she was going through a rough time and we lost touch. I couldn’t find her new address and somehow we never found each other again.
I’ve often thought of her. I wondered if she was married or had kids. Did she still live in the northwest? Then last year my office mate told me about a woman that he met at his new congregation. She had Ivy’s last name and I was pretty sure it was her mother. I was ecstatic! I asked him to find out if she was related. The next morning he told me that yes, she was Ivy’s mother, and she was sad to tell me that Ivy died several years ago in a car accident. She was seventeen. It would have been just a couple of years after we lost contact. I was devastated. You know someone has had an impact on your life when you can feel their loss so strongly after nearly 15 years of silence.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to find I still have three of Ivy’s letters. When I read them I remember how much her spiritual strength helped form mine. She was the one that taught me to look for the blessings in disguise. Those good things that come out of real tragedy. She encouraged me in my faith and challenged me to keep trusting in God, no matter what. I never doubted Ivy’s relationship with Jesus and I hope that I’ve managed to emulate her example at least a little bit.
In the end, Ivy’s letters were the blessings in disguise this time. Here she shines on paper forever, despite the tragedy of a life lost too soon. I never doubted that her friendship was a blessing, but finder her letters all these years later has blessed me all over again.
What are your blessings in disguise?