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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ellie's Swallow

Isn’t it funny how certain sounds can bring memories rushing back? A certain smell or sound can hand you a memory you’d long forgotten. Sometimes the funniest, most random things jolt a memory for me. Here’s one of those random things.

I met my best friend when I was about 8 years old. She was a missionary kid from Denmark and her family came to our mission in Africa when we were both in about 3rd grade. Ellie is the opposite of me in many ways: she is slender, graceful, and blonde. She has the best laugh in the world. She is hilarious, generous, and has such a sensitive, good spirit. She makes the world brighter everywhere she goes. She is an inspiration, she is courageous, she is amazing. She’s still my best friend.

Ellie lives about a trillion miles away from where I do now. We have very separate lives. We rarely see each other, rarely communicate other than the occasional email or facebook post because when it is evening where Ellie is and there is peace at her house, my house is bustling with Kid Energy and noise- homework, after school activities, friends in the backyard.

But there is something between good friends that is just there, it never changes. I think about Ellie all the time. I wonder how her family is, what she is doing right now…and I know that whenever we see each other again, we will pick up right where we left off a couple years ago when we got together. There’s something magical about a friend like Ellie. No matter how much time or distance is between us, we just are meant to be friends, and that’s the way it will always be.

Our time together in Africa, at boarding school especially, will always tie us together. When I think of my childhood, Ellie is a huge part of it. She is in most of my memories. I remember when she first came to our mission, she didn’t speak much English and I certainly didn’t speak any Danish, but we were meant to be kindred spirits and we made it work. We used to sit in the tree out by the clothesline, seeking refuge from the hot Sahara sun, and sing all the songs we knew. I’m sure everyone in a 2-mile radius appreciated that. We made up our own language. We traded stickers. We got each other through homesickness and childhood scrapes. We were, and are, sisters. We have so much in common, as far as personality and soul, there was surely a reason we were put together on the African continent so many years ago.

I go to the chiropractor a couple times a month for help with chronic neck and shoulder pain (due to stress- can’t imagine why I’d have any stress in my life!). My favorite massage therapist looks a lot like Ellie. She is from Europe, and is petite and blonde. And she has fingers of steel that untwist all my pain. But the thing I love about her most is the sound she makes when she swallows. Whenever she swallows, it’s just like Ellie is right there with me, because it sounds exactly like Ellie’s swallow. These two little women do not make crazy-loud-hippopotamus swallow sounds, by any means. But there is something about the way they both delicately swallow that is identical. So every time I see this massage therapist, I not only have my pain taken away physically, but I also feel close to Ellie during that 45 minutes because I close my eyes, remember the sound of being with her, and think about all our amazing memories.

Isn’t that funny? That the way someone swallows can bring me back to all my memories with my best friend. It comforts me that I can find a time and place to hold Ellie close to my heart. A time and place where my best friend doesn’t seem so far away.

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