I am good at finding words. Especially the written word. I do the written word.
I've had many friends. I have many friends. I love many friends.
And along came this former professional dancer who happened to be married to one of my husband's childhood best friends.
I honestly did not see her coming a mile away.
Our lives rarely crossed paths. I went to her wedding (19 years ago!) because my husband was in it. But I didn't know her.
She grew up. I grew up. She had two kids. I had four. She found Jesus. I learned to love him more. She started homeschooling. I started farming.
Her husband deployed, and on that first deployment a few years ago, she came to visit us in Nashville.
A year or two later, she came with her kids to the farm and cleaned my refrigerator.
Each time, we would start talking like we were old friends. SOoooo different. (I can't say that enough.) She's petite and has no problem calling people on the phone to ask for things and order things. I'm 6'3" and can't stand to speak to people I can't see. I hate shopping. (She loves it.) We grew up in different worlds: me in a trailer park in South Florida. She, as a dancer in a more affluent home both outside of Boston and then in South Florida.
Dancing? Me, become friends with a dancer?
Although, now that I think about it ... Patty and I really love each other too so maybe I do have a thing for ballerinas.
But ... I digress.
(As I often do.)
About a year ago, Erin contacted me. Craig was deploying again. They were in Virginia but would have to relocate to California as soon as he got back. Because of COVID, their life in Virginia had been short and isolated. She wanted to take her Zach (almost 8) and Zoey (almost 10) and thrive not just survive.
She was thinking of being a nomad for 6-7 months. Travel between family and friends with her two kids and two Boston Terriers. I thought that sounded ... wonderful ... but hard. You need a home base.
She agreed. Any chance we had a home base for her at the farm?
We threw around a lot of ideas and somehow, things started coming together. It involved our RV and our farm, and a place for them to call "home" where the kids (and Erin!) could experience a thousand new things while Craig served our country in Qatar.
John and I love our military. We feel called to them and always will. We also feel called to the orphan and the widow. Obviously, Erin is not a widow, but she was without her helpmate. And we wanted to step in for her.
What follows could be pages and pages and pages of stories and conversations and honesty and real life and hard stuff and amazing stuff. Big hugs. Falling in love with each other's children. Sharing the homeschool journey. Learning about farming. Learning more about ballet. Teaching. Reading. Loving. Friendship.
Friendship. Just genuine friendship. Just truly being honest with each other while living together and trying to teach our children to do the same thing.
I can't speak for Erin. I can only speak for Wendi. Wendi is so incredibly honored to have this woman in my life. Wendi's life has been changed by her presence on her farm. We are so incredibly honest with each other -- so real.
I honestly cannot believe that in "two sleeps", Craig and Erin and her kids and dogs will drive off to California. It seems unbelievable to me. Impossible. How can it be? They live on our farm. Don't they? Zach's hugs. Zoey's incredibly verbal recognition of anything she hears. They idolize Sidge. He is their "Sidgey." The four youngest love to go on adventures and come up with all kinds of things to play. And even my "old man" Isaac has been known to see a soft spot emerge now and then for Zach and Zoey.
In fact, John, at Christmas, bought them each a present. That he picked out himself. He isn't like that. But it's different with Zach and Zoey. They are a part of our family. Forever.
I am shocked to think that Craig Dunham, the annoying kid one grade up from me at Fort Lauderdale Christian School would grow up and marry a woman that I would end up calling TRUE FRIEND.
Erin, you have touched my heart in ways I cannot put into words. I know you have often felt misunderstood or unreachable ... but to me, you are none of those things. You are authentic and true and vulnerable and FUN! I look forward to our lives intersecting until we are very old and very grey. Although, I'll probably be greyer because I'll think it way too much trouble to color my hair. I'll probably be in sweats too because, well, let's be honest ... it's who I am. If I can, I will keep my pajama pants too. I'd like to be buried in them.
Again, words fail me.
I love you friend. Thank you for touching OUR lives these last seven months. I know you feel that we touched your's, but truly, the gift went FULL circle.
I have so many more pictures to share. But for now, words will have to do,
P.S. The pictures at the top of this post are from Erin deciding that Greenbriar needed to carry on into my life farther. She forced me to go to Marshalls again and extend my wardrobe. What you see in the pictures is the result.
Picture me with tears running down my face. Close friends are gifts from God. I've noticed many times, while reading your blog, that you express my feelings so well. I've said "goodbye" so many times - and I hate that my eyes get all red and my nose runs - and I know they'll remember me looking like that. I am thrilled you have your friend and wonderful memories.
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