It amazes me how the people we hang out with change during our lives. It is astonishing how we can be as close to people as we are our own family and then go years without seeing them again.
I can only assume there are many reasons this happens. It could be that marriage or a job takes us in different directions. Many times, divorce causes a separation between friends. Some friendships dissolve over disagreements. And sometimes it seems that some folks outgrow their friends.
Unfortunately, I have experienced all of these.
Growing up in the Keithsburg community gave my family the privilege of having some of the best neighbors possible. Our closest neighbors were Joe and Jethel Hillhouse and their two daughters Van and Tara. Van is a couple of years older than me and Tara is a couple of years younger.
This family treated me like I was one of their own. It’s like my Mama said, “I never worried about you when you were at their house.” This statement alone should tell you what kind of people they are.
I saw them most every day. I spent hours in their home. Although my constant presence may have been annoying, they never told me to leave. They just set another place at the table.
As we grew into our teens, Tara and I became very close. We spent hours outside playing basketball, football, and other sports. At that age, Tara could hold her own against the boys. But she was more than just a playmate. She was a friend.
We also spent hours talking about life and our futures. It never dawned on me during this period in my life that there would ever come a day that we wouldn’t see or speak to each other for years.
But we both grew up and went our own ways. After years of seeing each other nearly every day, life took us in different directions.
We both now have children of our own, and Tara’s beautiful daughter Ashley recently made Tara a grandmother.
I received the news just a few days ago that Tara had been diagnosed with a very serious illness. As for the specifics, I have decided to let her share that with you if she wishes. It isn’t my place.
But I understand that Tara made a post on Facebook a few days ago saying that she did not want people feeling sorry for her. I quit Facebook a while back. I think I had about 700 Facebook friends when, in reality, I don’t know seven people I would bother in a crisis. But that’s just me.
Hearing that Tara made that statement lifted my spirits. It also reminded me of how tough she always was as a child.
The battle that Tara is fighting makes many of the daily problems I face seem petty. And when you get right down to it, they are petty.
I don’t know how many friends Tara has on Facebook. And it doesn’t matter. I remember when she was saved and baptized, so I know she has a Friend that will give her strength to fight this battle.
There are lots of people today who claim to be Christians. They hold the flag of Christianity high with one hand while pointing their finger in judgment of others with the opposite hand. And that isn’t too difficult to do when you aren’t facing adversity.
But when you face adversity like Tara is facing, you get a much truer picture of someone’s heart. And Tara’s words on Facebook spoke volumes about the love and grace in her heart. And that comes from knowing God; not just saying you do.
So Tara, I no longer have 700 friends on Facebook. Most of the time, I am not even sure who I can call a friend. But you and I were friends. And we have one Friend in common.
You said not to feel sorry for you, so I won’t. But I am praying for you because I have always loved you and your family. Showing that isn’t my strong suit.
I know you will fight and conquer your adversary because that is the woman Joe and Jethel raised you to be.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.