This past week I lost a friend to colon cancer -- a friend of whom I don't remember a time when she was not a part of my life. We spent our earliest years together in rural Vermont, doing all the things that little kids do -- having picnics, taking walks, playing with toys, making memories. When we moved away from Vermont Amanda's friendship remained and was renewed each time we went back to visit or she and her family came to visit us.
When I lived in Uganda as a teenager, Amanda declared that she had decided to write me a letter every single week that we were there (over two years) and she faithfully wrote, gifting me with companionship in a land and time in life where I had few social peers. I've never gotten over that generous gift.
As we grew older we saw each other less and less but thanks to the internet and Christmas cards we always knew where the other lived and if anything momentous was happening. Amanda was talented and she was blessed with many opportunities to use her gifts, especially in the area of journalism, working on the editorial staff of places like National Geographic and the Smithsonian and I was always so proud to look inside the cover of those magazines and find the name of my kid-friend from Vermont!
It was always fun to hear about Amanda's latest travels! She even made it to Uganda (after I had left). Best of all, she made it to Scotland (along with another good friend, Courtney) to visit us when we lived there. In fact, that trip, 15 years ago, was the last time we got to see each other in person. Here she is with Rachel, the joy of life showing on Amanda's face:
Amanda leaves behind a wonderful husband and their precious, three-year-old daughter. As heartbreaking as it is to lose a friend, the greatest heartbreak is wishing that precious daughter could know her mom for more than these few short years.
Amanda's faith in Christ has been so evident through her struggle with cancer and the patience and perseverance with which she endured this final battle has been an incredible witness to all of us. She ran her race well, faithful to the end, and freely gave the gift of friendship and kindness to so many. She touched my life in many, many ways -- mostly in the very ordinary moments of life year after year that over time added up to become a lasting legacy.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:7-8
(The collage at the top is the wedding gift Amanda made for me to remind me of our childhood memories together.)