My friend, Steph, and her husband Tim call me Maleeka. Maleeka? Yes, Maleeka. She is a dear, dear friend, who I met in South Florida, and now lives in Pittsburg. Yes, Maleeka is a crazy name for those of you who see me as some poised Southern gal. Let me just give you a glimpse of our friendship...
She and I mail a stuffed "Henry the Talking Garden Gnome" back and forth, being sure to add a new accessory onto him every time and record a message in his belly that comes out in chipmunk language. Garden gnomes are long standing jokes among us - take no offense if you have garden gnomes in your yard - just know that if Steph ever discovers them, she is bound to take a picture and send it to me.
She couldn't make it to my 30th birthday surprise that sweet Tony planned for me. Instead, she mailed me Henry, along with my birthday gift, and paperdoll cut-out with her face glued to it. She was affectionately called "Flat Steph" and appeared in all my birthday photos.
She's the friend who will make you "pee" your pants over laughing so hard.
She's also the friend who rearranged her whole world so that she and her husband could drive 10+ hours to be here in time for the weekend of Tony's funeral. They were part of my "entourage" standing behind me at the visitation at the funeral home, at one point feeding a banana to sustain me. God used them to keep me standing that day and I am so very grateful.
I hope everyone can have a friend like Steph. She gives so freely one of the greatest gifts we can experience on this earth - laughter. She is another Proverbs 31 woman who can "laugh at the days to come."
Laughter seems like something my grieving soul should not experience right now. Yet, I find myself laughing almost every day. Actually, the day after the funeral, the day I absolutely dreaded for I did not know what it would bring, was filled with laughter. Over the course of the day visiting with friends and family, we laughed til we cried about the funny things my husband did over the years. He was unique in every way, and now that I look back and continue to hear new stories, I must admit all his quirks were very funny. If he were here, he'd be laughing too. He had this big belly laugh that was so infectious.
So even through my tears and my pain, I will choose to laugh every opportunity I can. And I better get my stomach muscles ready for a lot of laughter because I'm heading up to see Steph in just a couple weeks...