Sitting on my favorite park bench thinking of my best friend, Marie. It’s so easy to say “where do I begin,” but in this case I truly mean those words.
I met Marie years ago but it seems like yesterday. We were privileged to teach in the same preschool and the heavens smiled when we became a team in the same classroom. Team is the perfect fit for us, both then and now. We knew this was serendipity at it’s best and we we didn’t take this lightly. Marie’s passion and belief that every child was an artist was solidified through the most creative murals and sculptures that were displayed throughout our school. There was a profound respect and admiration toward each other and most importantly towards the children we were so blessed to have in our care. We led with love and we taught with love.
Like everything, life changes. I left teaching with Marie to care for my Mom and Dad. I began working in schools and hospitals as a puppeteer. Though Marie and I were no longer teaching together our friendship was steadfast and we morphed into best friends. Our get togethers were about our families, her beautiful artistry which had now segwayed into her full time decorative painting business, and my experiences as “Essie, the puppet lady.”
When I answered the, “Call to hospice,” I remained very protective and quiet about my service as a puppeteer for the children and their families that I had become privileged to know. During these precious moments in time I held ‘their story’ in my heart. Today, I still do.
One rainy evening Marie and I met for an early dinner. As we chatted I took out my journal. I asked her to listen to a story I had written about a dear Mom I’d cared for who had recently passed. I lovingly called her “Mama Bear.” When I finished reading I looked at Marie. Her head was bowed as she responded.“Essie, if you ever think you could turn your journal into a book I would be honored to illustrate your story.” …That was the beginning of two kindred spirits knowing and solidifying why they were meant to be friends.
I write these stories from a place of love. Still protective, still quiet. I have read every gentle story to Marie in my ‘Caring For’ series, as well as “Lola, the Roving Reporter, a Sweet Echo Story. Each time I watch in wonder as my BF begins to envision, process and ultimately capture with pencil exactly what I hoped these characters would look like. Only a best friend can know these things. … I am humbled and in awe that Marie’s creative imagination has the ability to bring my stories to life. … I am honored and filled with gratitude to have my best friend by my side. We are now on a mission as we share the same vision and belief that we are truly, “All in this together through the common thread of love.”