The sunlight is beating on my face, and I am running barefoot through the thick, moist, September grass. Tom is sprinting next to me, and we both see the trampoline to which we are racing. He is so much faster than me, but I never give up. On the trampoline are three girls bouncing around. Catherine, Tom’s older sister, has friends over.
“Who is that girl?” I ask Tom.
“I don’t know just one of my sister’s friends I guess.”
She has long brown hair, and skin that looked like coffee drowned in cream, but she is at least five inches taller than me and two years my senior.
“Wow, let’s talk to them.” Tom is rolling his eyes like usual.
It was five years and seven months ago that I met Emily Mary Nelson. I thought she was beautiful, but I didn’t lock eyes with her, or even entertain the thought of being her friend. It was as if she were an attractive, young, elementary school teacher that I was meeting on the first day of school. She told me all about her little sister that was my age, and I ran off doing something stupid and pointless with Tom. I will never forget the side of the trampoline she was sitting on, or the way she held her hair back. I see now how important that moment was, but at the time I was a little sixth grade boy with little awareness that I had just met a person that would change me life.
I met her little sister Averill, she was fun to spend time with and stunning in her own way. Averill is now nearly six feet tall with piercing blue eyes and platinum blonde hair; she is often described as a supermodel. Yet years ago other guys used to wonder if she would ever be a beautiful as her mysterious older sister. I never noticed Emily in large groups, I never thought about her with out Averill mentioning her. She was just a girl I that stunned me along time ago. It was years later she reappeared in my life.
Emily was a quiet young girl. She didn’t talk very often, and when she did it was always in a soft tone. Her brilliant mind was never to anxious to throw itself into topics of conversation because she was too interested in what other people had to say. I wish that I could have seen Emily when she was a little girl, but I can easily imagine her big smile and frequent laugh. She was shy, but she was always comfortable with who she was and did not need a copious amount of friends to be happy.
When I re-met Emily she was not surrounded by friends in a clique or giggling with a group of boys, she was being her quiet self. I must have seen her dozens of times before at Bible study, but I never noticed her before that night. She had climbed the old wooden staircase into the warm house and was talking to Averill. Emily volunteered to lead the next bible study, and so I quickly did the same.
It took me ten minutes to get up the confidence to dial her phone number. I had dialed it to call Averill so many times before, but I could not muster up the courage to ask for Emily. Emily is completely oblivious to so many things around her so she had no idea I was fumbling over myself throughout the entire conversation. I found all my normal confidence was evading me. We planned the next bible study meticulously because I wanted to talk to her about her faith.
Emily is defined by her faith. It consumes her and is what motivates her. Her faith gives her confidence, and from an early age shaped her mannerisms. Every night Emily does two things, she reads her bible, annotating it as she goes and writes an ongoing letter to God. She calls this letter a prayer journal, but either way it is written to keep her focused on God and to spend time with him. Emily is firm in her beliefs but I have yet to meet a person who truly dislikes her. It is amazing how much everyone loves her kind way of living.
Emily Nelson is what many want to be Intelligent, beautiful, kind and forgiving. Yet few people envy her. This is because she makes others feel as though their skills, their strengths and their virtues are equivalent to her own. I have never seen anyone lead with as little effort as her; she makes other people feel so good about themselves that they want to help do whatever she needs them to.
I found myself on a two year voyage of getting to know everything about Emily. Her likes and dislikes her strengths and weaknesses. She loves to do artwork, dance to crazy 80’s music and go hiking. She also hates to waste a perfectly good night on a pointless movie. Over high school I was lost in a car with her more times than I can count and found myself singing songs in the shower. She was slowly becoming part of me through endless late night conversations. Emily never dated anyone in all her years of public education, even though I wanted desperately to be her boyfriend. She told me I was her brother, and I prayed to God that she was lying to herself.
Emily left for college last August; it was one of the blackest days of my life. I felt as though my only chance to be with her was finally being extinguished. Yet like I am about most things I was wrong. It only took Emily four months of college to decide that I was worthy of her first date. I took her out for a one horse open sleigh ride and saw in her eyes a sparkle that I will never forget. It was the gleam of Joy, not because she was impressed but because she knew everything about me, all my faults and all my weaknesses. She was not under any illusion that I was a prince on a white horse, because she had seen me as a one hundred pound sixth grader.
Emily Mary Nelson is someone who changed me. I will never be able to read my Bible without thinking of her scribbling in her own. I will never be able to sing in the shower without thinking of her sliding on my oak floors in white socks. She has taught me, without needing words, what it means to have a gentle spirit. Even on the darkest of days, when my faith seems like nothing more than myth, I think of her and know that there is a God.