In search of “Sandi’s”

Thank you for the incredibly warm and supportive comments I have received from many of you on this blog, via email, in person, etc., with regard to my last post about the loss of my friend Sandi.  Her funeral is Tuesday and I’m already beginning to think a lot about it, feeling deeply sad, and nervous about how hard that day is going to be.  My wife and I and three other of Sandi’s friends from high school choir will be singing a beautiful piece at the funeral.

Though I hated the occasion that brought us together, I cannot describe the warmth I felt having Beth and Kim and Jeff in my home today.  Three more choir/band friends.  Three more people I love and care about.  Three that I have NOT lost.  Three into whom I will be investing more of my time and energy, more of my prayers, and more of my love.

Losing Sandi has got me to thinking about all my other “Sandi’s.”  Of course Sandi was one of a kind, but I have other people in my life for whom I have very deep affection; people who, if I were to lose them today, I would be devastated — but people who, like Sandi, I do not see very often.  Of course we can’t maintain close contact with everybody (seriously, thank God for Facebook in this regard), but in the coming days I will be thinking about the people in my life who I already love — the people who are most special to me, that I simply do not see that often and want to prioritize spending more time with.

After group practice today, Kim and Beth stayed at the piano and practiced a duet they are doing.  It was an incredibly beautiful piece, but even more beautiful was having them in my home and hearing them sing.  I want more moments like that in my life.  I want there to be fewer dear people to whom my attachment and connection is occasional, however sweet it may be.  I want to spend more time in the presence of people who I love, who know and love me deeply, who never expect me to explain myself, who “get me” and love me for who I am, to whom I am not this title or that title (pastor, professor, counselor, etc.), but just Dave — just a regular guy.

I am never happier than in those moments.  Never.  As an introvert, those friendships that go back all the way to high school and earlier are like well-worn shoes.  They fit comfortably, they don’t need any breaking in, you know just what to expect, and it’s all good.

There’ll never be another Sandi.  But I want to be more intentional about spending more time with the people I love most deeply — while we’re still at least somewhat young and beautiful.  🙂  Pat and Rita Hale, no reason we don’t see you more often.  Mike and Sheryl — more dinners and movies please.  Delynne and Lisa — more time in your presence!  Jeff Jackson — let’s hang out, man.  Kimi — you’re family and you know it, and you always will be.  Beth, what can I say?  I treasure you more than words can express.  Dawn Marra — you’re tops and I STILL haven’t seen you since you moved back to Davison!  Cindy and Corey — maybe only once every summer or two, but let’s keep it going.  Laura – so glad to be in touch with you again!

I guess this is my way of trying to focus on all the people I love who are still here.  But when I do that, I then have to ask myself why I am not seeing you more often, and there isn’t really a very good excuse.  You know what?  Every single one of you — either in choir, or connected to someone in choir.  Seriously, my friends.  Let’s spend some time together.  Let us say a last goodbye to our friend Sandi, and then let us be together once in a while.  When we are together, Sandi’s spirit will be with us.

QUESTION: Who are the “Sandi’s” in your life?

For Sandi

sandi

Sandi — far right, with Beth, Tammy, and Kay

I moved to Davison from Lapeer in the summer, just before starting 5th grade.

The transition was rough.

I was in an awkward stage, to say the least.  I  had bucked teeth and giant freckles on my cheeks.

My dad taught at Gates — the same school where I was enrolled, just across the hall, and was kind of the discipline guy for the school.

And oh yeah – my last name was Flowers.

All of this, plus being the new kid, put me in a prime position to be the butt of a lot of jokes that year, and for several years afterwards.

Sandi Alt was in my class that year.

Sandi was not only not mean to me, Sandi was sweet.

Sandi always treated me kindly and with respect.

I cannot say Sandi and I became best friends that year, but I can say that I felt safe around her.  I trusted her.

She and a small handful of people (Kim VanSlyke, Daryl Berryman, a few others) were people I knew I could be around without being made fun of.

Jr. high was even worse.

Not only was I still being picked on, but I was starting to believe the things that were being said to me.  They were becoming my self-concept.

Sandi was a musical person and joined choir, as did I.  She was also in band, as was I.

Our paths seemed to cross constantly and I came to develop deep affection for her.  I loved her spirit.

What’s more, I knew Sandi loved me.

When I was around Sandi, there were never harsh words.  Sandi saw me, and in doing so, helped me keep a hold on a proper view of myself.  

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