When I was young, but no longer little, life often felt like a jumbled mix of pain, worry, and the darkness that goes along with having an alcoholic parent. I spent a good amount of time alone, especially after elementary school, when reality sort of came into focus and then began falling part. Though there weren’t a lot of places I wanted to turn, one weekly event could be counted on as a space to lay aside the “stuff” and just be around people.
The MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) group at my church was pretty healthy, with a mix of kids from junior and senior high. At the center of it, at least for me, was Seema Christie. She was just three years older, but to me, she was like a movie star. Gorgeous, with bronze skin and black hair (not to mention a cute boyfriend) she seemed perfect. And to top it all off, she took an interest in this kid who was spending half her time fumbling around trying to figure out how to get through each day.
I came to look forward to those Sunday nights as a time to get away from it all—my own personal Calgon bath—and became closer to Seema. She’d include me in parties, relieving some of the loneliness and giving me hope that the future could somehow get better. When Mom died she was there to give comfort; I found myself turning to her as my family worked to regain its footing.
I loved being around hers. Joel, her dad, was always kind to me and her mom, Kusum, was the kind of gentle, nurturing woman who could always be counted on for a great hug. As a family they seemed to embody friendliness and stability. I was hooked.
As things often happen, Seema and I lost touch as high school ended and everyone went their separate ways. I would think about her from time to time as one of the bright spots in a childhood that was still painful to remember.
And then came Facebook. I think I became friends with her brother, Neal, first, but it wasn’t long before I’d connected with Seema. I scrolled through her page and saw that not only was she still helping people, she had made love, peace, and bringing light into the world a mission of sorts.
She’d become a massage therapist. But not *just* a massage therapist, one who travels the world to work with vulnerable children. The organization she works with is called “Buds to Blossoms,” which tells you all you need to know about their purpose. The pictures of smiling kids, the hugs, reminded me of the kid I used to be and how Seema embraced me, confusion and all.
She painted these big, beautiful canvases filled with color and light. Swirling images that radiate peace, forgiveness, calm. It’s as though her spirit flows through piece of art. In the photos of her, there was that smile I remembered, the dark brown eyes that told you it was safe to come out.
Every post was filled with the same love and warmth. Though we were separated by a lot of miles and time passed, it was as though I could feel her.
And then came learning about Ben, now her husband. I know nothing about him except two things:
1) He may be one of the luckiest people on Earth, to spend his days with Seema, and
2) He must be incredible himself to have won her heart.
They smile like teenagers in love. They hug, they kiss, they lift each other up in the most captivating way. Now remember, this is just from what I can see on Facebook. In real life, I imagine it’s even better.
As I have worked through my past, the decisions and actions taken (and not taken), I’ve come to value those who set an example for me early on of the simplest things, like friendship and caring. I may have not have had all a kid should, but I also had some people—like Seema—who were even more special than I knew.
My goal for the coming years of life is to do more than admire Seema, which is easy; or is to follow her example. To use my gifts to serve others. To find ways to express myself and my soul in ways that reach someone who may need an extra dose of hope.
I want to look at a sunrise, a painting, a meadow, and people in need with Seema’s eye and her unending supply of love. With all the filters we use every day, it would be something to have one that shows us the world the way she experiences it.
So today I am giving thanks for her and doing my best to be a student of all she teaches.