While in college, I led the youth group for church. I had many lessons learned during these years:
- I don’t care to lead children; I’d rather join in the fun.
- It’s vital to teach that not all questions have answers.
- Don’t get pulled over with two dozen doughnuts in the passenger seat and two giggly girls in the back seat (guaranteed ticket).
- These children can be your best friends.
As the youth leader, I invited my niece Erin to join the fun. Erin was exactly 7.5 years my junior. We celebrated each others’ birthdays and half birthdays. She accepted the invitation on one condition: could she bring along her friend and neighbor Lynn. This meant two more people to join the group. Answer: YES!
Each Sunday evening, I would drive over to Erin’s and then to Lynn’s to pick them up. They would pester me about picking up a snack on the way, and I would wear down and agree to do so after each meeting. Yep, they had me wrapped around their pinky fingers!
This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Of course, the friendship started with me as their chauffeur. I would take them to the mall, movies, etc., and they always included me in the fun. They entertained themselves by pretending they were my body guards. Tall (compared to me) and blond, wearing all black. They would walk together either in front of me or just behind me, always watching out because they couldn’t let anything bad happen to their chauffeur / meal ticket / entertainment.
Erin and Lynn were part of the youth group their last two years of high school. Yet, we had a need to enjoy each other’s company continually over the years. We’d start by having dinner together and maybe a movie. Later, we would have craft days at Lynn’s home with lots of snacks, movies, and a bit of crafting. Often teaching each other a new craft or technique: Erin teaching Lynn to sew, Lynn teaching me to bead, and me teaching them to scrapbook.
Sadly Erin passed from this earth October 15, 2005. We had just enjoyed a lovely lunch together to celebrate my birthday only the week before. Our craft days are not the same, but Lynn and I will continue to get together and always honor Erin with our time. We will always miss our dear, vivacious Erin, but we will always have countless memories of the joy and delight she brought to us.
Morale of the story: Teenagers can become an adult’s best friend and provide memories that will never be forgotten. Those who go before us are never forgotten.