Recently a task took me to looking at old pictures from our family. And right around the birth of each of our kids the same faces pop up, Renee and Heather. They were two of Allie’s closest friends from college on. Heather (May) Von Tobel was a bridesmaid for Allie, as Allie was for her. Our Paige at 2.5 was her flower girl. They made a point of seeing each other whenever possible. We visited Heather in Colorado when we were looking to move out there, we visited her in Indiana at her parents house, Allie visited her in Arizona, and Heather came to Ohio several times. Such was the strength of their bond and of Allie’s ability to make lifelong friends and work to make sure they were never lost. Her is what Heather wrote of Allie.
When Adam approached me to write something about Allie’s friendship to me for the blog, I knew I was going to have a tough time. Like those who spoke at the memorial service, there is SO much to say about my friend and our friendship, I don’t know how to put it into words that would do her justice. Not to mention that I can’t believe I’m writing this…I can’t believe she’s gone. I miss my friend. The last 19 months with Allie getting sick have been surreal. I absolutely hated living so far away and being pregnant/just having a baby at probably the most crucial time in her sickness…I felt so out of the loop sometimes and desperately wished I had more intimate time with our friend. I was envious of all her friends and family that lived down the street that could help out in so many tangible ways and be there for her, the way they lovingly did. My heart is just so sad.
I met Allie my sophomore year at Taylor. We had some education classes together and the more I got to know her, the more I wanted to get to know her more. I felt an instant connection with her (like so many others have said…) after seeing the warmth and sincereness in her personality. Thinking back to the first time I went for a run with Allie makes me chuckle. Her reputation preceded her and I knew (as did everyone else) how intense she was about working out. I famously said, “Oh, here she comes…” as she was walking down the hall towards my dorm room. She would never let me live that comment down and felt upset that I would feel intimidated by her running skills.
Time went by and our friendship deepened. So much so, that I had the privilege and opportunity to live with Allie my junior and senior year at Taylor. Our other roommate (Renee), Allie, and I shared so many special memories during those couple of years. Late night talks and giggles, trips to Arizona, Colorado, and visits to each other’s homes, Friday nights down to Indy, study sessions in the Union (with a frozen blended mocha in hand), runs around campus…my mind floods with memories and I can’t help but smile when I think about all the fun times we had. I’ll hear a song that will immediately take me back to those days. We loved to sing. The memory that has been coming back to my mind these last few weeks is of Allie hysterically laughing. Gosh, we laughed until our stomachs hurt and tears were running down our faces. Those were two of the best years of my life. But most of all, I was able to form a friendship with those girls that I haven’t really been able to find since graduating Taylor. They got to see me for ME…and knew me inside and out. We pushed each other to be a better person, to grow in our faith, and to love more. That was such a tender period of time in our lives…time when we were “finding” ourselves and trying to figure things out. I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without Allie and my time with her during those crucial years
It’s been 10 years since we’ve graduated and we’ve all moved to different parts of the country, stood beside each other in each of our weddings, had babies, and became more sure about ourselves. We still tried to talk and check in at least once a week…and after a few years, we began sending out a weekly Monday email to fill in the little details about how our previous week went and how we can be praying for each other in the week ahead. Allie spear-headed this ritual and would be the one to get on us if we missed a week.
Despite the time and distance, Allie never stopped investing time in my life. Hardly a conversation went by when Allie failed to mention, “How are you doing?” But she didn’t just want the “I’m fine” answer. She genuinely wanted to know how things were going in my life. She was always intentional about asking me how I was doing in my walk with Jesus…and I have dozens of letters to prove it. Whether it be a phone call or a card in the mail, she’d have some words of wisdom and encouragement to stay true to my faith and continue to follow Jesus.
She was truly one of a kind…She loved me, knew me, and was so incredibly intentional. I don’t know how you all have felt, but I’ve really felt more drawn to the Lord and His presence the last couple of weeks, since sitting through the service, and being reminded of how much Allie loved Jesus and wanted to be like Him. And how much she wanted others to know Him too. How could you not be more drawn to Jesus after that service? Jesus was so alive and present in her life…we saw it every time we were with her. My sister-in- law recently pointed out that she literally “took up her cross,” as Jesus calls us to do in Matthew 16:24-26
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
She took up her cross and kept following Him to the end. Eventually she knew her death was around the corner and she marched toward it bravely. Many of us won’t have to literally lose our lives and “carry our cross” in that fashion, as Allie had to do…but we can use Allie’s life, along with Jesus,’ as an example of how we should be living our lives…looking for ways to “take up our cross” for Christ’s sake.
Despite the void I feel…such a loss…I’m motivated to be a better person and love Him more. I get the chance to live more of my life. I’ve been asking the Lord, “Why Allie? Why do I get to be so lucky to live more life with Pete and the boys?” But to look at it with the Heavenly perspective, maybe she is the lucky one after all…she’s with Jesus. She’s where we are all striving to be and we’ll eventually realize how much more incredible Heaven is compared to here. I’m still trying to sort out my conflicting emotions. But regardless, how can I live status quo and not take more advantage of my time here on Earth? That’s what she would have wanted right? If she doesn’t get to, she would have wanted us to…to make a difference in those around us and for us to love Jesus more.
Obviously with my rambling, I’m trying to wrap my mind and heart around all of this, but at the same time, I’m missing my friend. I miss my exercise motivator, who would kick my butt into gear. I miss my food expert who would help me make better choices. I miss her hugs. I miss her voice and being able to pick up the phone to talk for a quick minute. We all lost an amazing person and she’ll never be replaced.
Keep loving Jesus. That’s what she would have wanted. If you don’t know Him, please find someone who does. Keep striving to be more like Him.
This world is not our home. We’ll see her soon. And I can’t wait.