I got an email from my BFF in Chicago asking me to review a memo she’d drafted to her staff. I’m always eager to comply with her requests and took a peek. The first line of her memo read:
In a perfect world, my son John would not have died in a drunk driving car crash and the woman whose job I’m replacing wouldn’t have terminal cancer.
Wow! Before I read any further, my mind was flooded with things to write about. The most prominent was my BFF. What a lady. I often wonder how someone could have their flame of existence snuffed out and still shine so brightly.
I’m one of those lucky people who have a lifelong childhood BFF. We met when we were only five years old and have been inseparable ever since. Probably because she makes me smile. Heck, she makes everybody smile.
Ten years ago, around 7am on a Saturday morning, I got the call. She whispered my name, “Janet”. Her voice frail and week. My immediate response was to ask what’s wrong. At least ten seconds of unimaginable weeping preceded her reply, “Johnny was killed in a car crash last night.” Even now, my heart bleeds. I believe, with all of my heart, that Jesus himself took her arm that day and has been lighting the way ever since.
It only took a year or so for her grief to begin its evolution. She started out by attending a support group meeting for AAIM, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. It didn’t take long for her to get involved. She baked for the bake sale fundraisers, volunteered for the annual auction, and helped produce commemorative DVD’s for other grief stricken families. All while maintaining her full time job as a hair dresser. She spent an entire year taking speaking classes at the local college on nights and weekends. Each time we talked, she’d say, “I’ve got to let people know the effects of drinking and driving.”
Before I could blink, she was giving monthly lectures at local schools highlighting the devastating effects of drinking and driving. Johnny’s handsome picture kindled her courage at the start of each slide show. Each and every speaking engagement honed her ability to transform her profound grief into a passion so great; I can’t even put it into words. Her passion, her burning desire within, can’t be taught at a college. It can’t be won, earned, or bought. Only our Heavenly Father, Leader of our Lives, can kiss such grief and allow it to blossom into such a passion. All glory goes to God for the majestic transformation. Oh yeah, and kudos to my BFF for making faith her anchor. And for the record, she is now the Executive Director of AAIM. I’m so proud of her. Love you, Rita!