In college I sang a duet for a wedding with another singer named John. John’s wife was Linda. We got briefly acquainted. It was ten years later that I really started to get to know her when one day she walked through my door to help with my new babies.
Linda was part of my “Quad Squad,” a group of saints who volunteered to come over to my house, initially from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to help keep four babies fed, clean, safe, and held. Plus to do housework and bottle washing and laundry and oxygen tubing detangling (200 feet of it among the four babies!). As an experienced mom, with kids 11 and 13 years old, Linda had insight and advice to share with me that was always helpful. She kept coming long after we trimmed down the shifts by both length and frequency. Even when we didn’t even have the “Quad Squad” anymore (though some people forever proudly kept their membership card shined and polished to share with others) Linda stayed with us. Or we went to Linda’s house. Or we went on outings together. We did holidays together. The kids stayed with her when I had surgery and when I was at the Newborn Hope two-day conference. She sewed for the kids. She took us to the Denver train station. She cooked for us. She nurtured us. She came when I called and said I was melting down. She intervened. She kept me sane. She saved us.
When the kids were three, I started going to a mom’s group called MOPS. I didn’t have a car, so Linda came over and stayed with the kids and loaned me her car so I could drive downtown to get there. When the kids were four, they started attending the children’s program associated with the group, and Linda helped them in the transition by going with them. She came to our house, picked us up, then spent the morning in the children’s program with them so that I could attend the adult portion. They’d never spent anytime in a nursery or away from me, so they were not happy with the idea of going into a children’s program. If Linda hadn’t done such an unselfish thing, we never could have gone. They would have had none of it. But with Linda there, it was like their nanny went with them. (It was after one of these mornings out when Spencer hit the wall and cut his head open and we had our first ER visit. Linda loaned me her car and stayed with the other kids.)
To the kids she was “Yinda with the yong yegs.” They couldn’t say “r” or “y” for a long time, and our neighbor was also named Linda, so we differentiated by adding the physical attribute because of Linda’s height. (And it was fun to hear them say it.) They spent days and nights at Linda’s, our lives becoming tightly woven with and connected to her and her family. The kids loved wrestling with John on sleepovers and playing with Aaron and Sarah, their kids. We shared milestones and events, and became very close.
As the kids got older and involved in more things, and I didn’t have or need (supposedly) help anymore, we didn’t see Linda as often. In fact, we went a long time without even talking. Then one day, I walked into my pool aerobics class, and there was Linda! It was a delightful reunion, after having been so close. We reconnected and it was wonderful.
It wasn’t long afterwards, in August of 2003, that my mom sent me an email on a late Sunday morning that John’s death had been announced in her church service. The details were sketchy and I couldn’t find out what had happened because there was no answer at their house. I went outside and sat in the yard for hours and just weeded, waiting for news, processing what I did know. The next day, I got through and went over. Linda had returned from a horrific trip to southern Colorado where she had gone in a mad dash when she got the phone call from her son Aaron. John and Aaron had been hiking on Little Bear in southern Colorado. They’d summited late and a storm suddenly blew up. While trying to get off the mountain, John slipped and fell.
Among other friends and family, I went to her house and sat with her as she and her kids started to process. The newspaper came and interviewed them and got the story. Everyone was in shock, of course. Linda and I were thankful we’d had the reconnection beforehand. I could be among those who walked alongside her during such a difficult time.
In the thirteen years since John’s death, Linda’s life has taken paths she never could have anticipated. She’s traveled far and wide, working to help needy people all over the world. She has studied and earned degrees, one of which the kids were privileged to play for the graduation. They also played for her 50th backyard birthday bash. Our contact has waxed and waned, but she is always near and dear to our hearts.
The way our lives have been irrevocably intertwined we don’t believe was an accident. We’re thankful that God gave us each other, especially at times when we really needed a special person. Linda changed my life, and my kids’ lives, in many ways. We’ll forever be grateful for her!
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