Linda was one of my mom’s first friends here in Virginia.  We moved here to live with my grandparents when I was four years old after my parents’ divorce & my mom didn’t really know anyone her own age here.  My mom had heard from her parents that there was another single mother with two kids around the same age as me and she was given Linda’s number.  After some time, (and enough lonely nights with me and no one her own age to talk to) my mom finally gave her a call to see if she & her kids wanted to grab a pizza with us.  We ended up going to their house and ordering in.

I hit it off instantly with Linda’s daughter, Julia (two years older than me) who became my best friend, and David (her little brother) & I went to the same preschool…  My mom and Linda have been friends ever since that night.

{Image via here}

We used to do everything together but more than anything, I remember Julia, David & I and the games we used to play.  Julia’s one of the most creative people I know…  We used to do plays all the time for our moms, we’d make elaborate forts out of just about anything -whether inside or outside, haunted houses, costumes, zoos for our stuffed animals, anything.  We were always exploring the woods it seemed, as their were forests behind both of our houses.  I remember one time Julia & I found fall-blooming camellias in their yard and so we put them in boxes and carried them to school with us to show to friends.  (We weren’t odd or anything 😉

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Another time, the three of us (Julia & David & I ) woke up insanely early one Saturday morning and decided to go check out their basement storage room.  Linda had stored furniture, decorations and just about anything you could think of in there.  We decided it would be a good day to “decorate” our fort in the woods.  We moved almost everything out of that storage unit ourselves and into the woods behind their house while Linda slept.  We had things hanging on the tree, furnishings and old jewelry out in the woods that morning.  We thought it was beautiful!!

(image source: unknown…  ours wasn’t quite as cool as this 😉

When Linda woke up and we showed her our decorated fort in the woods, I think it was the only time I’ve ever seen her upset.  But we lived, and if it had been my mom or grandparents who discovered our house in the woods, we might not have 😉  We moved everything back inside and Linda even let us keep a few things for our fort.

{Not us, but it was very normal for us to be in the woods/creek in dress-up clothes.. image by}

We were always working and we were always busy working on some crazy plan, and Linda always let us.  As a mother, she fostered creativity more than anyone I’ve ever met.  Nothing was too far or too much.  She’s crazy about kids.  She was also a teacher and I’m guessing her students would feel the same way.  She is without a doubt one of the warmest, kindest people most of us have ever known.  The smile she would give to you felt like you & she were in on a fun secret together and that it was meant just for you.  She laughed easily and made everyone feel like he or she was special to her, which I think they were.

Over the years, Julia & David & I all went our separate ways…  Julia is (not surprisingly!) a costume designer for motion pictures and her resume of movies she’s designed for is long and seriously impressive(Hunger Games!)… David is a dentist and will be married in a couple of weeks.  But my mom and Linda have stayed close these past twenty-six years…  Their group of friends has grown over time to become a tight knit group of women who are always open to new friends & experiences.  Many of them started out as single moms (who met in Parents Without Partners) and now the group’s also grown to include some of husbands who were picked up along the way 😉 😉

Linda passed away without much warning yesterday morning, after battling cancer.  It’s a shock to most of us as we thought she was okay and doing better after a battle two years ago.  Julia sent word a few days ago that her mom wasn’t doing well & wasn’t expected to live long.  Julia & David and the family came to be with her, and Julia described her as “peaceful” and ready to go home to God.

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I know everyone is hurting so much right now but that everyone also knows that she’s in a better place.  Linda embodies kindness and love and tolerance for others.  Her goodness and warmth will be with us forever and I’m also reminded how how short life really is.  It makes me realize that I want to do a better job of living each day the right way and to the fullest.  I think Linda’s peace at the end came from her being such a good person and having such faith.  So, today, I’m sending love to Linda’s family and to my mom and all of their friends… I know that along with the pain, we’re also thankful for having known this beautiful person who can teach us so much, even now.

And mom, I love you so much.