There are people in our lives who start out as friends and become family. I am inordinately blessed to have several such people in my life including the George family: Gil, Melody, their daughters Analise and Amy, and Melody’s mom, Sally. They have added so much to my life, more than I can ever comprehend, and I am eternally grateful. This particular post about them was written years ago (Analise is now four and Amy is eight) but I never posted it and when I reread it today, it touched me so deeply I cried. Both girls were in my dreams last night and I woke up missing them and looking forward to our upcoming hike. I hope they know how very much I love them. So Analise, Amy, Gil, Melody, and Sally, this one is for you.
“Bye-bye Deyah. Bye-bye Deyah.” According to Gil, my one-year old niece went around saying this all day after spending a weekend with her mom and I at a retreat. For months we have been encouraging Analise with our favorite words: Mama, Daddy, Amy, Nana, Sarah, hike, trail, and book. Her big sister, Amy, also taught her “no,” a word Analise has since used many times with her. Amy might be regretting that decision now. “Sarah” has always been a hard word for her as the S and R are hard for young ones to pronounce. “Deyah” is as close as she can get right now.
Though I met Amy as a baby, I didn’t get to really know her and her family until she was two and a half. Analise I have known since she was born. It’s been fun to watch a baby grow, learning how to hold her head up, roll over, crawl, walk with a hand, and now, just learning to walk on her own. With Amy, I have loved watching her learn to speak with “I” and “me,” walk down the stairs with one foot on each step, walk on snow with skis, and learn to read.
These two girls are one of God’s greatest gifts to me and I am so grateful for them. I’ve had so many special moments with each. Saturday morning of the retreat, I had woken up early to create an outline from my notes of the talk I was going to be giving in a few hours. Sitting at the desk in my room, I heard Analise starting to cry in the room next door. Slipping through our adjoining door, I lifted Analise up, acknowledged Melody’s request to wake her up later, and took my niece back to my room with me. There, Analise contentedly sat in my lap as I worked, happily drumming on the desk with my pens as the sun came up.
As a writer and speaker, I hear every so often how my words have touched someone, how what I have said has encouraged a person to try something new. Speaking into someone’s life like that is one of the greatest honors I will ever know. But even more than that, is the honor of having a five-year old girl jumping up and down when she sees me and having a one-year old cuddling happily in my arms. This last summer, their family took a road trip to Colorado to see Melody’s brother-in-law. Knowing it would be a long trip, I bought Amy some workbooks to have fun with along the way. When I dropped by their house to deliver them, Amy gave me a kiss on my cheek and said, “I love you.” Though I knew we loved each other and I’ve told her I love her many times, she had never said those words to me before and I just melted.
To Amy, my name is “my favorite Sarah.” To Analise, I am “Deyah.” From such pure, loving hearts, hearts who don’t care what I do, but only care about the love we share, “Deyah” and “my favorite Sarah” are my favorite names for myself in all the world. Such pure love touches the deepest place inside me for that is where God loves me and these loves are one in the same. I bask in that love.