Then as you descend, things start to come into focus, and you begin to realize that there are neighborhoods and parks, shops and offices, looking much like in any other place you might land. And for a while the cars look like ants and no more movement can be seen.
Then it finally comes into focus, now seeing life buzzing all around, with people coming and going in their lives all around you. The homes no longer look all the same, and the personality of the area is perceived.
But you still don't see, even when on the ground, what is happening behind the doors. A drive through the neighborhood gives you some clues, but until you spend time in the home or in the business you still don't know the intricacies of the lives lived there. Even then, what we know is often what people want us to.
I wrote the first portion of this blog post while high above, when my access to the outside world was cut off and I only had my thoughts for company. I had no idea that when I landed, I'd learn that a friend was gone. I had been thinking just minutes before that I'm thankful we don't know what's around the corner, because we might not be able to face it. My timing was ironic.
Diane was a friend who came into my life when I truly needed a friend. We'd just moved home to Jacksonville, had a newborn and a lot of uncertainty. Though it was home, we didn't have an abundance of friends and little to connect us. We visited a church, felt welcomed and comfortable and after a few visits learned of a new moms group. It was just what I needed, and though I was nervous about going, went and found a small group of women who I would form lasting friendships with. Diane was the reason for the group, with her passion for connecting people.
As I got to know her, and then eventually her family, it was like flying in lower, starting to see more details and until we really saw behind the doors of each others homes and lives. When you get close to the ground, and close to people, you see that it's not as perfect and shiny as is looked from farther away. But you also see character and interest and details that make you love it or them more than you could have from above.
Diane had a sweet spirit and loving heart that was evident from far away. The closer you got, the more you could see it. She also had pain and torment from an illness that you didn't see from above at first, but over time her friends saw more clearly. She closed the doors, kept the windows drawn and mostly kept us out, as much as we tried to get in. And we tried. I've missed her for years, but prayed that one day she would throw the doors open and let people help.
In the end, her illness was too strong for her to see the promise of tomorrow. She loved her son more than life itself. She loved her husband through it all. But the pain was too much and she chose to end the pain.
I will always remember my friend for her sweet spirit, her smile and laugh, her love of people, and for bringing me together with people that are now true family.
But I will also remember that we never know what the next moments hold and we never know what we'll find as we get lower and closer to people. If we're blessed, we find people like Diane who only prove even truer when we get close.
I love you and miss you my friend.
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