When I first pondered the idea of writing a blog about friends I had every intention to write about Nate and all of his friends.  Nate reminded me so much of his daddy when it came to his social butterfly, Mr. Cool, personality.  He knew everyone and was everyone’s best friend!  But as I started writing this post I was having trouble emotionally finishing it.  Every time I think of Nate’s cousins and best friends my heart just aches that children are experiencing the pain of losing him.  To see pain in a child’s eyes just breaks my heart.  But as the days and weeks have passed I realized this post shouldn’t just be about Nate’s friends.  It should also be about these absolutely amazing friends that have stepped up to the plate to support me, cry with me, carry some of my pain, make me laugh, and walk with me step by step.  Because after all, most of Nate’s best friends…  are also families that are our best friends too.

Seth was Nate’s best buddy. These two boys were so much alike. I don’t think a day passed in 2 years that Nate didn’t play with Seth or at least ask to play with Seth. Seth lives across the street and Nate knew when his moms car was in the driveway it meant Seth was there to play. He’d start asking at 7:00 am as he popped out of bed if he could play with Seth that day.  We would joke and say they needed their “fix”.  Nate and Seth would go through withdraw if they didn’t have a play date at least every other day.  These two were trouble together. They were both strong headed daredevils and both tested their boundaries. I often remember them getting into mischief in Seth’s dads garage and getting tools out to “fix” things and then they would leave the tools around the yard and swear they hadn’t been into them.  I can see so clearly the look on their faces and that grin in their eye as they would swear they hadn’t touched them.  I remember them here building forts of dirt and rocks in the middle of the yard even though they’d be told 100 times not to dig rocks out from the retaining wall.  Or destroying the playroom building roads for matchbox cars.  Then they would clean up and I would later find every toy tucked into one corner… after all they had to clean quickly so they could move onto the next adventure.  It was Seth and Nate.  It’s what they did.  They were double trouble.  It may have driven me nuts then but now it makes me smile at the memory.  I actually chuckle as I write it.  The boys would often end up in arguments because neither would give in on a decision. Most days they would play really well and end their play dates walking home saying “best friends forever”. At the time I would hear this and giggle and think, okay boys, in a few years you’ll be embarrassed to hear that you shouted best friends forever across the street to your buddy. But now I see that they will be best friends forever through Christ. I will admit, at first seeing Seth after Nate’s death was hard for me.  I would see Seth and think of Nate.  I would get so upset to see his hurt.  Every ounce of me wanted to take that hurt for him.  About a week after the service I invited Seth and his siblings over to play and while they were here Seth wandered like a lost puppy.  He never wandered in this house.  After all it was like his 2nd home.  He was 100% comfortable here and knew where every toy was.  Then it dawned on me… he was looking for Nate or he was just trying to find his place here without his best friend.  So with a tear in my eye, I asked Seth if he would like to pick a favorite matchbox truck of Nate’s to keep in his room.  His face lit up and he immediately walked to the upstairs toy bin and told me the truck he was looking for and that he knew it was in there. I thought to myself he’s not going to find that truck in that bin and told him it was probably downstairs with all the other matchbox cars.  He said “No, it was here last time we played together”. Sure enough in a matter of 30 seconds he’d found the truck. The truck just happened to be a Steelers themed truck that Nate’s Pappy had given him. Seth’s family are Redskins fans so his choice in the Steeler truck was a surprise.  So the truck left me with a smile thinking of Nate in his Steeler jersey running over to Seth’s to play.  I think Seth was proud to take that truck home and the smile in his face made me feel better too.  A very interesting thing has happened the last few weeks…  I’ve watched Seth and Drew create a bond.  I think even as they don’t realize it that they feel a little bit of Nate in each other.

Seth was sporting his Go Out Be Bracelet in honor of Nate.

Seth and Nate on a preschool field trip. I can hear them saying “But I’m standing taller”

Honestly, Nate had more friends than I can name because he was always a friend to all.  But when I think of another special friend… actually a set come to mind that were from preschool.  Emily and Natalie were Nate’s two girlfriends and as much of a “boy” as Nate was he would stroll right with Emily and Natalie without a care in the world.  I will honestly say he loved those girls.  He really had a care in his heart for them.   Natalie has the cutest dimples and a spark in her smile that will surely drive the boys wild!   Nate adored her and Emily.   Nate started having playdates after preschool at Emily’s house.  The big boy playdates were Mommy doesn’t go.  Nate was always so proud to say “I’m going to Emily’s afterschool today”.  I found out after Nate’s passing that Nate had told Emily about riding his bike.  He told her “You just have to pedal really fast and you won’t fall”.  While, it is slightly more complicated than that…  That Miss Emily is now riding her bike.  She did it for Nate.  Nate adored these girls and I think he would have taken care of them through the years.  Maybe he will always be taking care of them now.

Miss Emily riding her bike! I know Nate is SO proud!

I could start rambling stories about Nate and his friends for hours as my mind starts flooding with memories there is another story that crosses my mind of Nate daring a girl to show him her “buttons” and she didn’t just show her “belly” button. He was a wild one and we knew we had our hands full with him.  We truly loved his caring heart and his spunky personality!

As I have processed the last months I have had many ups and downs.  While I’ve had friends that are supportive but I believe aren’t sure how to help me…  I’ve also had friends that truly stepped up to the plate and for that I am so grateful.  I’m not sure where Justin and I would be without the friends that we have created in this wonderful community.  We knew we would have our parents and our siblings by our side.  Family was a given.  But friends…  We are blessed.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:5

I believe God placed certain people in our lives for a reason.  He knew we would need strong friends.  My hope will continue to be in Him.   We may not have know how much we would rely on friends but God did.  He placed them in our world for a reason.  I have these friends that showed up the day of the accident to take care of us.  I have these friends that were waiting for us to pull in the driveway the day we came home and they sat in the grass and cried with me.  I have these friends that hurt with me and for me and I know they carry a fraction of my pain for me.   I have these friends that know we don’t “ask” for help so instead they figure out what we need and get it without being asked.  I have friends that I have grown immensely close to these last few months.  I have friends that our bonds have forever strengthened.  I have these friends that remind me of bible verses and keep me focused and content in my faith.  I have these friends that will sit and chat with me until 2 in the morning when I’m having a hard night.   I have these friends that know just how to make me laugh.  I have these friends that worked so hard on fundraisers and sacrificed their own personal time for my family and for Nate.  I have these friends that have reminded me that I have great friends because I am also a good friend.

So as the “Day of Thanks” approaches I think of all the things that I could scream I’m unthankful for or angry for.  I mean how could I possibly find anything to be thankful for in the midst of what I believe is the deepest grief one can bare?  But I am always reminded of my desire to be Great for Nate and to be true to my faith and to continue to hope.  So, one of the many things I am thankful for is FRIENDS.  For the friends that were so true to Nate.  That showed him such joy and fun in his 5 and half years.  Friends that helped him become the fun boy he was.

And I’m thankful for friends that will walk this deepest journey with me step by step and day by day and they won’t leave my side even on my darkest days.   I love you all!


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