This picture was taken the week that I met Jill Tomb. My good friend Barb Hauge had introduced us. The three of us were on a planning committee together. We were organizing a Luau to celebrate our oldest son’s graduation from East Pike Elementary school.
Back then I said “yes” to everything. I had agreed to photograph each student to be included in a program for the party. I had rushed around and taken off early from work to get there before the school day ended. I pulled my car up to the school parking lot and Barb walked over to my car with Jill. She introduced us, and I quickly noticed the large lensed professional camera that was slung over her shoulder like a purse. She looked like a member of the press. Imagine how silly I felt as I had a small camera that I only knew how to use the automatic setting on.
I had just been through a long day and was emotionally all over the place. I still wore the scarf on my head as I had just finished up my last round of chemo and had started my radiation. I also was trying to put on a front for everyone that I had everything under control. I was embarrassed by my small camera and was feeling drained that particular day, so I snipped quickly “if you don’t need me I can just go’. Jill looked concerned and asked if I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t know it at the time, but Jill had just finished battling her own round of cancer and she sensed that something wasn’t right. I’m guessing because she had been there herself just a short time before.
Her look of concern tugged at my heart. I lied and told her I felt fine. She told me she could use all the help she could get. I liked her immediately. She has a slow pace when she walks. She walks like she appreciates every little step she takes. She calmed me that day and her giggle as she laughed made me forget my troubles for a short time. We connected instantly, and it felt like I was with an old friend. She gave me pointers on how to take a portrait shot of the students. We laughed and joked around the entire time. It was perfect timing for God to send me a new friend.
The day of the Luau, Jill and I were in charge of putting the photo booth together. I loved how she would stand back and tilt her head and move things ever so slightly to make sure it was perfect. She was excited but moved at a slow pace appreciating the importance of details. We both had our cameras again this day. This time was different, I wasn’t embarrassed. This new friend would never judge me.
I’d like to say that over the past five years, Jill and I have spent a lot of time together. I’d like to say we went on many adventures. But I can’t. Jill lives only a few short blocks away from me and always says “let’s get together for coffee”. We have gotten together many times but not as much as I would have liked. It was my fault. I packed my schedule too full and didn’t allow enough time for friends and family. I’m always like … “I can squeeze you in the second Tuesday of next week”. I walk too fast. I need to slow my pace down and walk like Jill.
I’d like to say that I will start this week. I’d like to say that I’ll invite her for coffee today. It’s too late. She is moving to another state this week. I will never drive past the bus stop and see her walk her kids and her dog with her leisurely stroll. I missed my chance because I was always running full speed.
I am so thankful that I did get to spend a small bit of time with her over the past five years. Each time we spent together has been so special to me and I will treasure forever. I’ll miss you Jill Tomb. I will try to slow my pace to match yours. God bless your family on this new adventure. I hope that the new friends you make will slow their pace and take the time to get to know your beautiful soul.
I love you my friend.