I went to a church from 1st/2nd grade until I was a freshman. I grew up around some amazing people. Some of those people are now back in my life thanks to social media. (Fine. Facebook. I'M TOO OLD FOR THE TUMBLR.)
There was a girl a few years older than me with beautiful red hair and the voice of an angel. Seriously, everyone stopped in wonder when Mandy sang. I sang in the children's and youth choirs the whole time we attended this church. I watched Mandy sing countless solos and could not even feel envy because she was so amazing. Mandy unknowingly pushed me to continue singing and take lessons to hone my voice. In high school, I nabbed my own fair share of solos. Now we comment back and forth on our statuses about kid antics and other minutia. I wonder if she still sings.
Brandon was a force of nature. He could sing. He could act. He could bring you to hysterical tears with a funny story. I don't think he has ever met a stranger. Even if you were 4 years younger, he still made you feel important. He taught me to put aside my comfort zone and step into the spotlight. I learned that I could stumble on my lines and still get laughs. I still have scars from when Brandon ran up behind another boy at the water park who was talking to a chaperone and pantsed him and HEY NOW I KNOW THAT BOYS DON'T WEAR ANYTHING UNDER THEIR SWIMSUITS. I love reading his travel stories and seeing the pictures of fun places he's been. It looks like many others have seen how dynamic and fun Brandon can be as your friend.
ASHLEY AND HEATHER
Ashley and Heather were both my age. I think they have been friends and both attended that church since the beginning of their lives. Both were (and still are) gorgeous, talented and brilliant. They were good friends who honestly cared about others. Now they are grown women each with a little girl. Those girls are also friends and remind me so much of the girls I grew up with. I'm grateful to still call them friends.
Oh dear. Where to begin? Shannon was my best friend. Only a year older, she went before me and I followed her like a little sister. I'm the oldest in my family and a big sibling was something I never got to experience. Shannon gave me that. She started high school and band first and told me how cool it was. We went to my first concert together. (Audio Adrenaline and DC Talk. 90's kids, REPRESENT.) I still remember her advice to all of the other girls going on "Date Night" at church camp. "You're going to be sitting next to this boy during dinner and service. CLEAN YOUR EARS." I'm thrilled to know that she'll get to pass down this essential knowledge to her little girl. I love hearing about her homeschooling adventures with her boy and girl. I feel so blessed that she is back in my life.
Thank you. Thank you for what you taught me, what you shared with me and for friending me again.