For Becky

Spanish 2 was responsible for the worst grade of my college career. But I forgave Spanish 2, because it introduced me to Becky.

She was the pretty, smiley, smart girl across the aisle to my right. From the very beginning of the semester, I knew I wanted to have her as a friend. I vividly remember the day the professor walked up the aisle between us collecting homework. Somehow I had missed the assignment altogether. When I tried to discreetly plead with the teacher for more time, he made no attempt at discretion as he said the word “Zero” back to me. Becky handed her paper to him, and I was sure I had just failed her friend-material test.

But her welcoming personality continued to draw me, and one day I shot her what I’m sure was a middle-schoolishly awkward email inviting her to lunch. I was astonished when she said yes.

It was the beginning of an accelerated but sweet season of friendship. Because of when we met, we went through several transitions and momentous occasions together: graduations, weddings, big moves to new places. We weren’t in the same place for long, but Becky quickly became a friend I would treasure across the miles and years.

When we shared an apartment during her final undergrad semester, she overlooked and forgave and made room for a thousand of my missteps — always with that smile. I would be sure that I had reached the Roommate Transgression Limit, but then her laugh would put me at ease. She gave that gift often.

Without realizing it, Grant and I set our wedding for the same day as Becky’s college graduation. She walked the stage in cap and gown that morning, but instead of driving west to celebrate with her family, she drove a couple hours east to celebrate our day with us. I’ll never forget that.

The next year, Becky herself was married. I barely knew her husband Brad, but I still remember their wedding as the most joyful and worshipful I have ever seen. They were incandescent together.

In the years that followed that first lunch together, Becky continued to astonish me with her generous friendship — not only towards me, but to all those lucky enough to call her “friend.”┬áThe hospitality of her heart seemed to have no limit. I was amazed by how many friends she had (human and animal alike) and how genuinely she loved each one.

Life eventually took us different directions. When Grant and I went west, Brad and Becky moved farther east. We managed a couple of visits to each other, but then we swapped longitudes. About the time we headed back east to Indiana, they settled down in Colorado.

We’ve watched each other’s families grow long distance. I’ve admired her adventures and learned from her wide-open heart. With every Christmas letter and birthday card she sent, I’ve been reminded what a gift her friendship was in my life.

Becky lived life fully and felt things deeply. She loved people. She challenged and encouraged me. She radiated joy.

Today we have to say goodbye. I wish I could be there in Colorado, surrounded by photos and memories of her, witnessing the multitude of friends and family members whose lives she brightened.

I miss my friend, and the world feels a little duller without her. But my memories of her are bright and beautiful. My last tribute to her is to take to heart her words in the last letter she sent me:

“Cherish every moment.”

Becky and me


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