Reality seeped in as the departing hour approached. No longer were two middle-aged women gallivanting around the mountainsides like teenagers without a care in the world. Husbands and children now invaded our minds bringing us back to the present situation. We gave a last minute, tearful goodbye, I stepped out of the truck into the airport and we had our first separation in a week.
I tucked myself into my own little space and promptly forgot other people were beside me. As I rose above the city, I could see the mountains I had become so accustomed to every day. The farther we ascended the faster and harder the tears fell. Pictures flashed before my eyes, each one so special.
The long travel day to get to my destination was soon forgotten. What wasnít forgotten was when I first laid my eyes on my greeting party. Two very good friends that I had never met in person were standing there, side-by-side. My dream was finally a reality. I knew them both right away and I could tell they recognized me. I couldnít get there fast enough. Bags were tossed aside and we hugged.
From the very start, the two of us, the middle-aged ones, couldnít get enough of each other. It was so odd to finally be able to see my very best friend up close and to feel her arm around mine.
Our first big adventure was Starbucks. She wanted me so very badly to like her lattes and I wanted to give it a try. Her daughter was there, camera in hand, to catch the moment. As I took my first sip, with Mara at my side, I was disappointed to taste how much like coffee it was. When I voiced my concern, Maraís face exploded with laughter. Her face crinkled up and her laugh lines showed. Iíll always remember that moment. She drank the rest of my first latte. I did end up liking them but that first time was so funny. Iíll never forget it.
Itís the silly moments that will last forever in my mind. As majestic as the mountains were, what will stand out in my mind will be the shivery feeling of being barefoot in the snow with our flip flops tossed aside. I watched through the camera lens as Mara made snow angels. We climbed up a snow bank and I bent down to make a snow ball but it got tossed aside, unused, because poor Mara, who was so careful to not let anything hurt me, fell into a hole in the snow, up to her knees. We laughed so hard neither one of us could get down the bank very safely.
I have never laughed so much in my life but now, as I write this, I canít stop crying. I have such joyful memories tucked away in my brain and photographs forever captured and able to be retrieved with the click of a button.
Mara loved watching me soak in the sights, sounds, and smells of her mountain. She laughed at my silly questions and attempted to answer each. She stopped at funny places so I could take pictures of things that canít be found in the Midwest. She laughed in amazement at my ignorance of pilot cars and tsunami signs.
Her laughter is engrained in my memory. Her fresh vanilla scent lingers in my nose, along with her not-so-fresh morning breath. Walking hand-in-hand down the mountain paths like little girls, these memories are why my tears fall.
Maraís mission was to be used by God to be a part of my healing. Healing did come to me throughout the trip. This was the best Iíve felt in eight years. I believe I was healed in very special ways, throughout my mind and body. We climbed the mountain together. The way wasnít always easy but I persevered and overcame.
We took a picture of a single little yellow wild flower. As I look at it now, I realize that is Mara and I, separated by thousands of miles but for one brief moment in time, I was able to stand beside her in church worshiping. I donít understand why my best friend is so very far away.
We have e-mail, instant message, webcam moments, and phone calls but nothing will ever compare to that first face-to-face visit. My trip was soaked in prayer by many around the world. God truly did work a miracle Ė He made it just perfect.
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