Let me warn you right up front this is yet another post that centers around an #adventpicaday photo. But before you click away to find something more unexpected—say, a talking dog video on youtube—do let me explain I haven’t posted for two days, just seeing if I could make the urge to tell this story go away. I couldn’t.
All these years later, it has become quite clear to me why God brought her to my life. The antithesis of my mother—who was her dearest and most judgmental friend—Helen was honest, transparent, brash. Her view of life was street level; her commentary delightfully unfiltered.
I’ll never forget the time Helen traveled with our family on a cruise to the Bahamas. She, Mom and I were lying by the pool when talk turned dangerously toward sex. (Let me say, about this subject my mother and I never talked. Distasteful, you know.) So even as a recent college graduate—age 23—this conversation made me very nervous. And then Helen pronounces:
I was a virgin when I married at 29, and it’s the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.
I held my breath, stealing a quick under-the-sunglasses look to see just how horrified my mother was that her dear friend had made such a statement in front of her impressionable daughter. But Mom just laughed and laughed.
Helen had that effect on people.
I cried uncontrollably at her funeral in 2004, just two years after she sat with my family at my sweet, backyard wedding. I often think about the fact that the cancer was hiding there at that joyful moment, vengeful, biding its time. I still miss her terribly, most deeply at Christmastime. I can see Helen now, sitting in the green wingback chair in the Barn Room, smoking a cigarette and wearing her signature THE FAT MAN COMETH sweatshirt, those long pretty pearls around her neck.
I wrote something similar in a Christmas card to her children (who are my dear friends) as I sat in front of the fire feeling nostalgic Friday night. And I was still thinking of Helen the next morning when I walked back into the bedroom after delivering a load of dirty clothes to the laundry room. The late morning light was streaming in through the window, and I grabbed my phone with thoughts of capturing something interesting for #adventpicaday.
This is what I saw when the photo rendered:
The three angels Helen gave me as a wedding present, bathed in the light of Advent.
30 Days of Joy