I met Emily when she was three years old (I think).
Jim asked me to accompany him as he went to talk with her parents about baptism. When we arrived and sat down, I was immediately smitten. Emily, however, kept her distance, eyeing us. Soon she warmed to me and we sat on the floor together, looking at her Minnie Mouse doll. I was asked to be her godmother. That was the beginning of something special for me.
Last Friday, I went to Emily’s thesis show which fulfilled her final requirement for graduation from Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland. We drove to the gallery, spotting it by the sign the graduating students designed as the symbol of their show. Amazing variety of works filled the gallery. There on one entire wall was Emily work, except for three pieces she had already sold. (Totally unbiased decision: Emily’s was the best by far!)
And there stood Emily, now a poised young woman, standing next to her husband (he’s wonderful, by the way), sharing her photography with the world.
I couldn’t help it…my thoughts went to the past. I thought of Emily at her baptism; Emily playing basketball at her tiny hoop in her front yard; Emily eagerly awaiting the Tooth Fairy’s arrival; Emily’s total delight in the birth of her little sister, Sarah; Emily singing the Great Litany beside me, quickly picking up the sung responses, then frowning when the response changed; Emily asking if she could roll up her “pant sleeves” so she could wade into the water to see the “wollypogs”; Emily’s decision to be a clown when she grew up, all the while carrying around a particular law book, with a particular page marked; the phone call I got the first time her little sister broke one of Emily’s toys; watching Emily sleep while I got to babysit; Emily reading books to Sarah; sleepovers and roasting marshmallows in the fireplace; and thousands of other memories.
When she was younger, Emily’s eyes sparkled with delight at the world. As she got older, her eyes were sometimes sparkling with tears, as she experienced the hurts of life. On Friday, Emily’s eyes sparkled with joy and pride at her accomplishment and at the delight of having her husband and her family by her side. It was a mature, calm sparkle.
My life has been infinitely blessed by this human being. Her parents’ generosity in sharing Emily with me is a gift they will never fully understand. Emily’s willingness to let me in to her precious life for the past 20 years has changed me and made me a better person.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift and the blessing that is Emily. Bless her and Chris as they continue to build their life together.