i’ve been in a reflective mood lately. it’s probably all of the nostalgia of training camps and the whole ‘being home one year’ thing. maybe it has something to do with the places the lord has been taking me in my own heart lately. anyways. i’ve just been thinking a lot. thinking about how things have happened in my life, the people that have been around, what god has done.
last week i got to see some dear friends in atlanta, which got me reflecting on these friends and what they’ve meant in my life.
i met coach lacy when i was twelve years old. i walked into kennedy middle school the “new girl.” i was scared, shy and all kinds of awkward. over the next few years i had a few classes with her. she taught my aerobics class, my multi-media classes and coached volleyball. volleyball was definitely not for me. but i think maybe my knack for media started in her class. i remember how in our aerobics class we’d take friday’s off to have “girl talk.” we could write down secret questions and she’d answer them. she shared parts of her life with a room-ful of girls in hopes that we might learn something about ourselves and about life. apparently i did. she was the teacher everyone wanted to have and the kind of person everyone wanted to be.
i always admired her.
eventually i hit the milestone of eighth-grade graduation and moved up to high school. she coached track there, so it was then that our relationship really began to blossom. i started babysitting for her girls; kelsey was just six or seven and bailey was still in a crib. at first i’d just spend a friday or saturday night hanging out with the girls, watching bring it on and having killer dance parties. somehow, though, as time went on i found myself with them more and more. by my sophomore year i was spending afternoons and evenings in the lacy home multiple times a week. i ate dinner with them and attended family functions. i found myself immersed into their lives and into their family.
looking back, i can recognize that i was so drawn to them because it was the only place i really felt safe. in so many ways it was the only refuge i had from the mess at home and my chaotic, dramatic, ever-changing teenage life.
coach lacy taught me how to run. she always challenged me to do better and to be better. running away was never an option. making excuses was never an option. at an early age, out of necessity, she taught me to run straight into whatever life was throwing at me and to make a decision on what i was going to do with it. she expected great things from me. but she was always proud of me. and she never hesitated to express it. i remember the first time i ran a sub-six mile. she ran back and forth my whole race, spurring me on. when i crossed the finish line she was there, crying with arms open. she saw good in me when i was blind to it. she loved me well.
she threw me a surprise birthday party when i turned sixteen. she braided my hair for track meets and sat with me on bus rides. she often cooked me my favorite meal [grilled salmon and cheesy green beans for anyone out there wanting to get on my good side]. she hugged me. she got me out of class to have mid-day snack breaks. she stayed up late with me and taught me about life as we ate nachos and watched golden girls. we ate ice cream for dinner and went to tcby almost every week for waffle cone wednesday. she drove across town to pick me up when i called in the middle of the night and she was there when i felt like my life was literally crumbling around me.
when i moved across the state at the beginning of my junior year she kept in touch. the emails and the phone calls still came. she never forgot about me. she drove through a snow-storm to watch me be on homecoming court my senior year. and she drove back to watch me graduate.
she has been every example of friendship, sacrifice, and hospitality that i could ever hope to display. as the years pass by, coach lacy and her family will continue have a special place in my heart. we’ve laughed too many laughs and cried too many tears for it to ever go away. i have always loved and appreciated the role she’s played in my life. it was never something i took for granted. but in the past week or so i have just been so overwhelmed by what her presence in my life really meant. i absolutely believe i am who i am today in large part because she took a chance on me.
she loved me and took care of me when no one else would [or could]. she helped me move, in some ways, from being a kid stuck in sucky circumstances into being a capable woman, the world at my fingertips.