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Brenda, Dylan, me, Cadence, Elaine
All Grown Up
Yesterday I traveled to San Diego to attend my daughter Elaine’s baby shower. Aside from the usual anticipation that accompanies these happy occasions, I had another matter on my heart: Brenda would be there, with her son Dylan.
Brenda and Elaine had been friends since they were young girls. Brenda’s home life was challenging; eventually she left home to enroll in the Job Corps, a residential career-training program for young people. During her time at Job Corps, she spent weekends in my home; when she had completed her training, she came to live with me for a while.
During that time she worked for me. She was young and determined; I was nearing 40, but only a few years out of graduate school, and had high expectations. I was also in a season of ambient misery, and it colored all aspects of my life. When she left in 1999 to relocate to northern California, her departure was abrupt and in the midst of my busy season. It was, to put it mildly, tense.
I did not hear from her for a long, long time. Elaine kept me posted on Brenda’s life. I sent cards from time to time.
Through the years I always displayed a portrait, a Christmas gift from them. It was taken in 1998: two beautiful girls smile at me from the photo, young and fresh and filled with hope.
Then Brenda joined Facebook. She accepted my friend request. I sent her a long note telling her how I missed her, how glad I was that her life is going well, how proud I was of all she had done to improve her future. I wrote, too, of the other struggles I was facing during the time she lived with me and my regrets for allowing those struggles to spill over onto her at a time when her own challenges were more than enough.
She responded with kindness.
Yesterday, my daughter, Brenda, and Dylan arrived for the baby shower. I greeted my daughter, murmering, “I am so happy to see you; I am overjoyed to see Brenda.” Elaine said, “she’s a little nervous.”

I walked up to Brenda just as she was retrieving Dylan from his car seat. I wrapped my arms around this amazing woman and her beautiful baby boy and felt her return my embrace. My eyes filled.

We’ve both grown up.
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (NLT)

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