She is clothed with strength and dignity;
She can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
I found myself thinking about you as I painted my nails this morning. The first painting of the year - a beautiful azalea red. It reminded me of your signature color - when you would pull your bottle of nail polish out of your purse during our break. A little bottle of not-quite-red, not-quite-pink - the perfect complement to your skin. You would pull that little bottle out and twist it open. The brush filled with the glorious shade - shiny and smooth. Your concentration evident, you spread your hand and stroked each nail, as you spoke of children, learning, God, and life. Stroked each nail lovingly, carefully, the polish clinging to the perfectly oval beds. And your words over all - calm, comforting - wise words born of difficult experience and joy.
You spoke of raising your children, your boys-now-men, and how you had embraced your role of mother-father. You taught them respect for women, for their elders, and you infused in them self-respect and confidence in who they were. Who they are. Strong. Successful. Compassionate.
And it was hard. You - who wanted to break down - could only cling to your own strength - could only pray for more strength. No tears. Lots of prayers. And stamina. Alone in your room, when you whispered in the darkness Am I doing right? When you longed to beg God for respite. But you didn't. Because you knew this raising of your sons, this life you were leading, was required - and you were obedient.
You, the child who had cared for your family when your own parents had to work. You, the rebellious, defiant child - the feisty one, who wanted to tell the world what you really thought. You made the decision to move your family across the country. You made the decision to settle in a place without roots - because it offered a better life for your sons. And you made it a better life for yourself. You found work. You spread that tough love of yours into the classroom. Into many classrooms. You found a church, a community. You allowed people into your story - you allowed me into your story.
You should know how profoundly you influenced me - during those precious talks we had during our breaks together. I saw a strong woman. An attractive woman. A woman who took care of herself - emotionally and physically. I admired your sense of style. I admired the thoughtful way you put your words together - saying the hard, necessary things kindly, purposefully. Oh! I wish I could learn to show your restraint - that restraint you don't think you have - that ability to not say the things that won't change a situation, the things that will just cause hurt and confusion. I admire your wisdom. I admire your absolute faith in God - your absolute love of Jesus.
I am thinking about you, as I polish my nails this morning. You should know how valuable you are - how important you are. You polish lives, like that beautiful signature shade, of the people you meet, the children you teach, your coworkers, and your friends. I am proud to call you friend. I miss you.
Heavenly Father, thank you for leading me to this special friendship. I miss my friend, and I know she's not done going through difficult times. Continue to infuse her with your wisdom, and your strength. Comfort her. Today, I lift up my friend to you - let her choose joy.