Blast from the past

I had a little God hug this morning in the form of a memory.  I was walking into the gym watching the man from the linen service unload  hampers of clean towels for delivery inside.  He was standing on the liftgate as it was lowering and on the way down, the gate jerked and a huge cart of clean laundry fell off the side and tumbled into the street.

It reminded me of the times that my friend Lisa and I used to to transport the clean clothes from the laundry facility to our dorm room as a part of our weekly chores that we had to do as boarding school residents.  Many a night the clean clothes would tip out of the baskets because she and I would stack two or three on top of each other so that we wouldn’t have to make more than one trip.

Getting the laundry was the job that Lisa and I frequently requested.  For you see, to get into the laundry room, one had to traverse the storage room.  And the storage room held the secret treasure.

Cases and cases of bottled cokes.

One quirky little rule about boarding school was that we were not allowed to drink cokes during the week. They were a weekend only treat, and even then, we were limited to no more than three, and we had to pay for those on the honor system by dropping our coins into a little coffee can that our dorm-mother set out on the counter in the little kitchenette.  This little system worked well for me, but it was a major problem for Lisa.

Because Lisa was an addict.

A Coke addict.

Lisa came up with a plan by which she could feed her little addiction, and because I’m an enabler, and being the good friend that I am, I went along with it.  If she was needing a little fizz fix, she’d pass me a note in study hall saying “We forgot to get the clothes.”  In case the note was intercepted, the teacher would be none the wiser, but WE  knew that was code for “We’re getting a Coke tonight!”  After study hall, we’d head straight to the storage room, pop the top off a room temperature, dusty Coke bottle, and chug that baby with sweet abandon.

And then, so as not to be accused of stealing, we’d pay for whatever we took during the week on the weekend.

Drove our dorm-mother CRAZY when the empty bottles didn’t match up with the money in the till.

One night Lisa sent me a code note in study hall, but for some reason, I wasn’t going to be able to help her.  She had to ask someone else to go with her because even though she was going to illegally drink hot cokes, she still had to get the laundry, and it was definitely a two person job to make sure the baskets didn’t tip over on the way back to the dorm.

She chose Susie L.

Sweet little Susie L. who had never done a single thing wrong in her whole life.

And so off they went.

Into the storage room.

Grabbed the room-temperature, dusty Coke bottles.

Started drinking them, without thinking of the one critical error they had just made.

They forgot to turn off the light.

A teacher passing by happened to see the light on in the room and popped in to flip it off.

And there she saw two thirteen year old girls.

Vainly trying to hide the bottles behind their back.


Oh the drama.  I was back at the dorm when Lisa and Susie got hauled in for questioning.  Guatemala lies just outside  the reach of Child Protective Services, so Susie got one paddle since it was her first offense, and Lisa got two swats — one for sneaking cokes and one for leading Susie astray.

Over the years, Lisa and I laughed together many times about The Great Laundry Room incident, but today I laughed alone.  My sweet friend died  15 years ago, taken from me suddenly by an aortic dissection as she jogged around a track with a friend.

She was only twenty-four.

It’s amazing how little things like spilled laundry can trigger a memory.

I was grateful for it.

For the laughter.

For the friendship.

For a God who takes away hurt and gives my soul peace.

As I walked into the gym, I made a mental note to add one more thing to my to-do list for the day.

Even if it meant an extra thirty minutes on the treadmill.


Have a Coke and a smile nice day.


31 responses to “Blast from the past

  1. So glad for your God hug today in the form of a trip down memory lane via a laundry cart.

    So glad you enjoyed a bottled Coke today…it’s worth whatever price you have to pay on the treadmill.

    Glad you still have Lisa with you because she will always be part of who you are. I know she is, because as long as I’ve known you she’s been like the good friend I just haven’t met yet. I’m looking forward to meeting her one day.

  2. Goodness gracious girl…you are on a roll with the posts that make me weepy first thing in the morning.

    Awesome post, written so beautifully.

  3. Great memories, great story, and great God hug. Love it.

  4. Lovely post. I’ll drink a coke today in remembrance of Lisa. And isn’t it something to think that God had planned to spill that laundry cart where you would see so you would remember Lisa–and Him. Love that!

  5. This is such a beautiful post! And look! I didn’t comment about how much you cracked me up 🙂 Aren’t you proud?

  6. So very sweet! God is so good…

  7. Love this story! Am sure your friend especially likes that you write that she was a Coke addict. 🙂 Memory is a beautiful gift from God. 🙂

    Just had to tell you that your “Jesus loves me. This I know. A black-and-white cow told me so.” post was the topic of conversation for our extended family at dinner last week. You’ve touched more people in Texas than you ever thought. You had us all crying over God’s goodness. So bless you for reminding us….

  8. Beautiful reminder to treasure the precious people in our life, each day.

  9. I KNEW you were a Texan! You just had to be–you are too amusing, too gracious, and too energetic to not have Texas blood in your system!

    Have a marvelous visit. We are in the DFW metroplex, and I love it here. We’ve only been here 4 years, but this is my parents’ homeland, so I was delighted when my husband moved us back here.

    Make sure to look up during your visit. The stars are so bright and the sunsets are beautiful here: embraces from the maker of the universe.

    And have a good [hair] day. 🙂

  10. So much for thinking your blog would make me laugh today. *sigh* I did snicker a little while wondering how many google hits you’ll get from the words “coke addict”.

    Sweet story, Sus. Love it when God brings to mind special memories. Thanks for sharing yours with us. Twenty four is SOOOOOOO young. Goodness…I can’t imagine.

    Hope your hair appt goes well. 😉

  11. Thanks for sharing your sweet memory!

  12. I love remembering sweet friends like Lisa. I know you’ll never forget her, and thank you for sharing a special story about her.

  13. Laughter and tears every time I visit! What a FUN memory, you sneaky little thang!
    Thanks for such a great start to the day… you are an amazing story teller!

  14. You could write a book! Had me hanging on every word, but being the emotional gal that I am —I always need a warning that it will be a sad ending. Drives my husband crazy when 5 min. into a movie I’ll ask him: “Is this going to have a happy or sad ending?” Like he would know having never seen it himself. Most of the time I need happy endings, but this post was needed in remembering good times and good friends

  15. When I was in the 9th grade, I had two good friends die in an auto accident. I was heartbroken – and don’t remember much about the next few weeks of my life as I was in a daze – however, one thing I DO remember was the relief I felt when I learned that they had both been saved and baptized a few years earlier. I believe that this has taught me a few things: 1. Time is fleeting and we are never guaranteed tomorrow. 2. I don’t want my friendships to end when one of us dies – I want them to last for eternity. 3. It is my job to plant seeds and God will take care of the opportunities to do that and He will grow them. Every now and again things happen that make me smile and remember my friends, Mikey and Terry…and I am grateful that our friendship will last an eternity. They were fun and full of laughter – and we’ll be laughing together again when I meet them again! October 5th will be 18 years…wow. I still can’t believe it’s been that long. They were only 16 and 17 years old when they left this earth…but oh! The things they’ve seen! 🙂

  16. What a great memory to have. I bet Lisa is havin’ a chuckle and “feelin” your hug.

    Great Post to start my day, Thanks!

  17. What a special memory and how wonderful of you to share it with us.

  18. You’re amazing, you know that? I’ll always be grateful to a God who brought u into my life over this crazy internet. And grateful for the God hug u received–then shared. For hugs are best when shared.

  19. Sweet story and sweet memories. Thank you for sharing.

  20. All choked up now. Thanks a lot.

    Fun memories! Lisa sounds like she was a lovely friend. I really dig her name!

  21. I have a Lisa, too.

    So many sweet precious memories that will forever be with me.

    And some just as precious as dusty coke bottles.

  22. Okay, I was a steller Acteen, but it was this post that made me want to be a MK. 🙂 Boarding school sounds fun – especially with friends like Lisa. Thanks for sharing with us today!

  23. Sweet story. Sweet Memory. Sweet friend.

  24. Another glimpse into your interesting past, chuckles, & tears. What sweet timing of the Lord to give you that memory of fun times & a special friendship that will one day be restored in heaven! It is another reminder of the brevity of this life & the glory of the next life.

  25. Happily, I just found your blog!

    It is the rare post that can simultaneously bring a smile to my lips and a tear to my eye. Thanks for sharing.

  26. What a great memory! I have no doubt you have a bajillion Guatamalan boarding school stories! Can’t wait for the book. :o)

  27. Thanks Suzie, I loved the story!
    It’s a great way to handle our loss of
    Lisa. I think she was the one who taught me to lauch at the hard things in life. Love you

  28. Hi Susan,

    great story, I also remember Lisa and the cokes, and Susie L. falling through the ceiling, sneaking around…thanx to the bad influences LOL

  29. sweet memories! i can hear the two of you cackling & trying to be quiet about it after your trip to the storage room!

    keep writing! i love how you tell a story… you have a gift Sus! 🙂 i’m with Jennifer, can’t wait to read the book! hugs!

  30. Melinda S (used to be Melinda P)

    I missed this story, earlier, but I’m glad Susan L linked to it. Great story! (I don’t remember the Coke rule.)

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