Long Talks Over Coffee

Today I spent two hours at the mall talking with one of my best friends. I had felt a little harried in the morning and discouraged by some things that have to be done at our store. But after that two hours with Kay, I left walking lighter and with much more peace in my heart. I'm so grateful for my friends and for times like today. Driving home I was reminded of another friend and the countless times Diane Ottenweller and I would meet for coffee in Johannesburg. We shared that same special friendship.

Diane was a gifted woman. She was an amazing listener and was wise beyond her years. She was adventurous. She had passion but was also soft-spoken. I loved getting to spend time with her! We rotated meeting places. There was a little place in Cresta Mall that served a great cappuccino and an amazing minestrone soup. Sometimes we were there so long I would order two bowls of soup... Then there was the nursery at Fourways. We spent so, so many mornings and early afternoons sitting inside or out depending on the weather. Diane and I didn't always meet every week. But when we did get together we would both lose track of time. We talked about ourselves. We talked about our kids. We talked about our marriages. We talked about Africa and its many needs. Often we joked at the end of our time that we had solved all the world's problems through the course of our conversations.

Diane encouraged me on my journey of raising Nick and Kati. She helped me have the courage to be the mom I needed to be and not give up in my quest to shape and mold their characters. She helped me be a better wife for Tom and helped me look for ways to build our home up and not tear it down by complaining and being discontent. She helped me get comfortable having difficult conversations with friends with the aim of making those friendships stronger. When she and Mark moved back to the United States, they had settled just 3 hours away from Tom and I. I had visions of more coffee and more conversation that would pick up where we left off when we left Africa. Though that was not meant to be, I am so grateful for the friend that I had in Diane. I think about her often and share all that I learned from her with young women I spend time with today. The lessons I learned from her were invaluable. I miss her a lot, but feel so privileged that our paths crossed in South Africa and we became best friends.