The Shirt On My Back

Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize you are in the exact place you KNOW you are meant to be in at the exact moment you are supposed to be there?

That happened to me on Saturday.

But I will get to that later…..

8 years ago my friend Renee asked me to move with her to Abbotsford. We met at Camp Qwanoes and I had only known her for 2 months, but I said yes anyways. I had absolutely no idea that that split-second decision would lead me to where I am today. Renee and I moved into a super tiny basement suite in East Abby with another friend of ours, and our 3 personalities were like static electricity—we clashed. But we also had a lot of fun, and we learned so much from each other and watched waaayyy too many Friends re-runs. The fall that we all moved in together, I joined a rec league volleyball team and met Diana. She was on the opposing team, but somehow we got to talking and a legendary friendship was born. She is older than me, and even though our friendship is very balanced I have always looked up to her like an older sister.

4 years after Diana and I met, I packed my life up and moved to South Africa to live with Diana’s mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law, and their young kids. While I was in South Africa, Diana moved away with her family from Abbotsford to London, Ontario. Saying goodbye before I left Canada, knowing she would not be there when I got back was torture. I remember we sat on the couch and sobbed like babies, and she kept telling me we would still see each other. It took 4 years for her to come back, but she finally did, and she waltzed back into my life like a tiny dancer and invaded my heart and time once again. We spent the last 3 weeks together while she was visiting BC and honest to goodness, the timing could not have possibly been better.

Lately I have been feeling really convicted about my sense of entitlement to things. In other words, I feel really selfish lately. Because of the fact that I am going through a lot of emotional crap, people have been amazing to me and I am starting to feel like I have not been giving even close to as much as I have been given…whether that be time or otherwise. The joy of being selfless and generous has been a distant memory lately. So thankfully I had the wonderful influence of Diana to remind me again of how I want to live my life.

When we woke up on Saturday morning we decided we wanted to hike Teapot Hill right by Cultus Lake. We were in the kitchen sitting at the table folding laundry, and Diana held up this super soft white nightshirt, brought it to her face and slowly inhaled the wonderful smell of fabric softener. She showed me the nightshirt—it is a lion cub sleeping. It reminds me of Africa. Our Africa. She told me it was her favourite shirt in the whole world. She looked at it in her hands, brought it once more to her face, and promptly placed it in my hands.

“It’s yours.”

“No, no, no”, I replied. I couldn’t take her shirt. Her favourite African shirt.

But there is no arguing with Diana. She is raising 4 kids. She knows how to stand her ground. I wanted to cry. She gave me her favourite shirt, and I know I am maybe making a big deal out of nothing in your eyes, but to me that is such a big deal.

How often do I do that? Just give something away that is my favourite? I have no issues giving away things that I don’t care about, but my favourite?? Never. It scared me because I realized how much I have changed since my Africa days. I feel like it used to come much more naturally to me to live with close to nothing. I miss feeling passionate about giving to others. I miss me

We set off on our hike, driving through the countryside commenting on tulips and how the sky just might clear up for us, and when we got to the base of the mountain my heart was pounding. It’s a story for another time, but let’s just say that I have been putting off hiking Teapot for a long time because of something that happened last summer. So this was super important. When we got to the top I had a similar feeling to the one I felt when I crossed the finish line in April. I knew I had conquered something I never thought I could. And it felt good. We kept hiking after we reached Teapot point for about another 5K and then I just got the urge to run. I can’t explain it. I disconnected from my body and my legs took over and I just left Diana in the woods and I ran away. I ran until I found this amazing look-out point and I collapsed, exhausted, on a log. It was raining perfectly, just enough to cool me down but not enough to drench me, and I started crying (big surprise, hey?), and the rain mixed with my tears, and by the time Diana came to sit next to me I was just in awe of what I was seeing in front of me, the most amazing view mixed with the presence of a beautiful and loyal friend, and I KNEW so deeply in my heart that none of this was a mistake: I was meant to be brokenhearted at this time in my life, and I was meant to be in that exact place at that exact time. I felt like all these parts of me just snapped into place and I wanted to dance.

This girl is thankful.

Diana didn’t bring a jacket with a hood, and I just happened to pack my favourite blue hooded shirt that day which I told her to wear so her head wouldn’t get too cold. It looked really good on her. We were heading back down the mountain and I started to get this super nagging feeling, and I knew it was saying to give her my shirt.

“But it’s my favourite”, the Christina in me who loves that shirt said.

“But you know what you need to do”, the Christina in me who loves my friend more than that shirt said.

She apologized for getting my shirt all wet. I told her she didn’t need to say sorry to me because it was her shirt now. She started crying and she hugged me and threw a little tantrum about how we just found each other again and would have to say goodbye. Life is hard that way.

It feels good to be writing again. It feels good to be giving again, even if it is only a blue shirt with a heart on it. It feels good to feel sunlight on my face and it feels good to know that summer is on it’s way.

Have a great week, friends. : )

~C

1 thought on “The Shirt On My Back

  1. Hi there! I thoroughly enjoyed your writing piece about Diana. I was friends with Di in SA and loved her spunk, her spirituality etc. I seen any mention of Greg on her postings and because I am too scared to ask her, can you kindly tell me if all is still ok?

    Best wishes
    Jayne

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