I've got this friend.
This quirky, amazing, creative, friend who I am celebrating today.
I didn't see her today.
It was snowy, and Sunday, and she was hunkered down with her cat with the sound of her sewing machine whirring away beside her, singing her "Happy Birthday" with its own melody and rhythm.
She likely had a big glass of wine beside her, or maybe a gin and tonic, to toast in the new year of dreams and days that await her.
Funny, that she was sewing today, for it's because of her sewing that I met her in the first place.
It was about 6 years ago, and I had been passionately reading and watching everything on the genocide in Darfur I could get my hands on. I was speaking about it, writing about it, and consumed by it. Then one day I opened my Winnipeg Free Press and saw a picture of the cutest blond accompanied by the most amazing story of how she was doing something for the people of Darfur... on stitch on her sewing machine at a time. She had started her own project of sewing the most interesting and artistic bags using up-cycled fabric, selling them on her blog, and donating 100% of the profit to feed people in Darfur through the UN's World Food Program. She was just starting then, and the hype was building.
When I read about what she was doing my pulse quickened and I knew I had to meet her. I also knew I really wanted one of her bags. So I sent her an email and waited for her next set of bags to go up on the auction block and I snagged one. I remember being so nervous the night I was going to meet her to pick up my bag. I already knew I loved her because I had read her blog. I just wanted her to like me.
We sat and chatted with her friend Michelle, who is my friend now too! (Funny how these things work.) We connected. I knew it. And before long we were meeting for long and ridiculous conversations and sharing emails with sometimes only one or two lines from the trenches of where we were.
She became my Joycie, and now I can't imagine my world without her.
I had never known someone so eclectic and authentic.
Someone who gave herself away,
who made me laugh my ass off,
and who knew just what to say to get me to unlock my secrets.
That last one is a big one. I don't unlock for just anyone. But I opened up the vault for Joyce because I knew my secrets would be safe.
I have never found judgement in her presence.
I have never questioned her faithfulness.
I have never felt like "not enough" even when she is so much.
She shows up at my door with Sweet Chili Heat Doritos, Rhubarb Ciders, and sometimes even a fresh made lasagna. These come when my chips are down. So down. Down so far I can hardly speak and only she knows. And we don't have to say much, because we know.
We are cut from the same cloth, me and my Joycie.
There is no one like her. Not even close.
And I can't believe she's mine.
This is a woman who has sewn her way to raise and give over $30,000 to the UN World Food Program ear-marked for Darfur since she began her Bags4Darfur project.
Who lives her life in the company of toddlers and children, serving spaghetti in a bag and not doing crafts with the best of them, wiping up spills, snuggling, listening to little voices and sometimes shaking her head.
Who is helping to create the four most interesting, unique, tender-hearted, and creative off-spring.
Who not only sees things outside of the box, but set up camp. made a permanent home for herself there, and even makes room for visitors.
Who calls me friend, picks me up, dusts me off, and locks arms with me as onward we go.
Happy Birthday, dear Joycie.
I like being your friend.