The first friends I remember in my life are the friends I met in Sunday school. A handful of us met around age 3 and didn’t really go our separate ways until after high school graduation.
I have a 3 year old memory of standing among a group of little girls, spinning around in dresses. It’s a funny thing how no one teaches little girls to do that. They just figure it out. I’ve watched all the little girls in my life do the same thing.
Lori Severson probably was not one of them. She was the first Tomboy I ever knew. When I close my eyes and think of Sunday school, it just wouldn’t be the same without a certain element of orneriness that followed Lori everywhere. For as long as I’ve known her, she has always been funny and kind, athletic and strong. She was beautiful without ever trying—and without ever trying, she was tough as nails.
I imagine one of the first battles she won was not having to wear those dresses anymore to Sunday school. Lori was the first in our group to get to wear pants to church.
Remember the aerobic craze of the 1980’s? Well…I bought into that for a minute. I taught classes back in the days when I knew I was wired to do physically intense work but had yet to discover that warehouse work was the greatest thing ever. Women of the world were spending 30 minutes each day forming deep bonds with Richard Simmons while trying desperately to look like Jane Fonda in a French-cut leotard.
But not Lori.
I walked into a real gym one afternoon to pick up an application and there she was on a weight bench pumping iron, decked out in a t-shirt and basketball shorts. Like always, beautiful without trying. She smiled and flexed her bicep. I smiled back, impressed beyond words at what a glorious thing her bicep had become.
Not so long ago I heard from another of our childhood friends who went along on that ride with us from ages 3 to eighteen. She sent me a message asking me to pray for Lori. She told me that our strong childhood friend now faced her toughest battle to date: breast cancer.
It is strange how life can take people in different directions and yet you cannot imagine this world without them. I find myself checking her status updates everyday. In a world filled with crappy news, Lori’s updates are about the most uplifting words you could hope to read. Not that she’s received any different news yet…its just that she is a grown-up version of that same little girl. Funny and kind. Athletic and strong. Beautiful and tough. Tough enough to fight not only her own battle…but those she’s met along the way who struggle each day to survive. She walks into chemo treatments with enough awesomeness to share with others. I imagine she makes them smile and laugh just like she did with us all of those years.
More than any soul I’ve known who faced down this particular battle…I believe she’ll win. And she might even walk away with a newfound appreciation for all things pink.