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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Our Mutual Friend (not about the book) (09/15/11)

TITLE: To Be Truly Known
By Cheryl von Drehle


When Ivy received the card announcing her lifelong friend’s death she instantly time traveled back to 6th grade. The first time she saw Janie’s petite frame, wispy white-blonde curls, impossibly long, slender piano playing fingers, and attitude that would cow the fiercest bully, she knew they would be friends forever. Even at 12 years old, Janie’s razor sharp tongue delivered acerbic opinions laced with such blinding blue-eyed sparkle that the recipient would laugh at the wit rather than fume at the words.

Seven years later, Bobby noticed Jane as the centrifugal force in the office. She perched her diminutive shape just so on the most central post in the office, skirt modestly tucked over knees, drawing attention to legs provocatively carved by years of ballet training. He eagerly joined the tight circle of men vying for her fleeting attention. He won. He was charmed by her sophistication, mesmerized by her beauty, mystified by her moods, stunned by her pettiness. Their marriage of joy and sorrow lasted 62 years before he succumbed to Alzheimer’s.

Lois was her neighbor and best friend for 25 years. Then they had a falling out of forgotten origin but such ferocity that the grudge was able to maintain silence for the next 20 years. For the fortunate ones though, time mellows rather than hardens. Reconciliation in the last decade of life fostered shared memories between Lois and Jane. They reminisced about children matured, alienated, forgiven, or remote; of neighbors long dead and houses living only in fading memories. They shared gossip now rendered benign by the mellowing camaraderie of age.

Anne met Jane later in life through a women’s Bible study and built a friendship based on a shared love of animals. But she was often perplexed by Jane’s insistence that her furry friends were better than her human ones. Anne would listen in sympathy as Jane railed against friends cast as betrayers and accused of dismissing Jane’s opinions as eccentric and mistaking her small frame for weakness. Yet Anne was warmed by Jane’s self-deprecating humor and captivated by her riveting stories spun from deceptively simple trips to the grocery store.

In keeping with Jane’s fierce protection of her privacy, only these three friends were included in the family memorial service. Afterwards, the family graciously invited them to her apartment to pick out a treasured memento. Ivy, Lois and Anne wandered through, taking a last peek into Jane’s beautiful complex personality. Ann fingered the gold embossed Bible brought back from Spain. Ivy sighed at stacks of magazines dating back 40 years. Lois leafed through countless photographs of trips abroad and wondered about which friends were excised, and why, by the scissors wielded on some of the pictures.

They all marveled silently at a lone wooden plaque over the bedroom mirror. It was of smooth light oak wood carved into the shape of a fish, embossed with the words: “O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.” And each woman who uniquely knew certain facets of their mutual friend, silently thanked the Lord that Jane was in the presence of the only One who fully knows and understands.

Psalm 139:1 King James Version
Note: The character and description of Jane are based on a real person I knew and loved; names have been changed and other characters are a composite of Jane’s real life friends

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This article has been read 346 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Goergen09/23/11
Very interesting peek at Jane and her unique personality and her connection to her friends through your wonderful word art. So true that God is the only one who fully knows and understands each of us, even better than we understand ourselves. I enjoyed this well written read!
Karen Pourbabaee 09/24/11
I loved your title and its very comforting meaning. Such a great truth you presented, that really each friend only comes to know certain facets of our true selves...you skillfully portrayed that in your piece.
The concluding scene was excellent!
Noel Mitaxa 09/24/11
You have so skilfully assembled the details of Jane's life and her nature that we sense the limited profiles of each our friendships; and then thrown back the curtain for us to sense God's ultimate perspective of us all. Excellent work.
Theresa Santy 09/27/11
What a wonderful method of presenting a character, or person, by hearing how other people felt about that character, and how she affected their lives. Very powerful presentation.
Edmond Ng 09/28/11
A well written descriptive piece. I particularly like the ending of the story because it expresses well the essence of what it means to live and die in Christ, bringing comfort and assurance to those close to the deceased in knowing one is safe in the hands of God. God bless.