The title of my blog came from our good friend Ray who, until last weekend, I thought used to say it to his beautiful wife, Kitsie.
They clarified for me over coffee last Sunday morning that it was actually Big Ray, or Ray's daddy that used to say it to his daughter-in-law when he would drop by to find her running around the house toting babies, laundry, and a cookbook.
I loved it and so I stole it. Or borrowed it. Whatever. Anyway, just in case Big Ray ever wants to use "A long way from the Theta house" for anything official, it's his.
Looking back on those days in the sorority house compared to now, it certainly was a little idyllic. We studied a lot (that's for my father who sometimes reads this), watched a little Melrose Place, and perhaps drank a little Zima on Thursday nights. For four incredibly impacting years I had some beautiful friends walk alongside me through finals, boyfriend break-ups, bible studies, and eventually, job offers. We spent a lot of time together and learned to love one another for all our similarities and our differences. We laughed. A lot. Sometimes until we cried.
This past Wednesday night, I had just sat down to read my Bible or watch Modern Family, I can't remember, when I looked on my phone and saw several Facebook posts on a pledge sister's page.
They were words of shock, sadness, and condolence and I immediately felt her loss even though I hadn't seen her in years.
On a beautiful fall day in New Orleans, a city that fit her like a perfectly broken-in pair of jeans, Jennifer, for reasons we don't yet know, took her life.
She was a force and fiercely loyal. She was the life of the party and the deepest of thinkers. She was brilliant, and beautiful, and a lover of people and a defender of the weak. Even in college, she was always taking in animals or adopting gross things like snakes. I swear, the only reason I can own one now is because I watched her bring one home in college and laugh at its antics like was a more animate pet. She moved with me to Dallas after graduation and we watched Jack Ingram play live every Tuesday night. She was my first friend to meet Trey and issue her approval when he wanted to marry me. We took road trips and plane trips to places, I'm sure, we would have ended up incarcerated without her ability to think fast and talk faster.
She beat me every time we played Words with Friends.
Although it's been a long time since graduation, and I haven't been exactly spectacular at keeping up with everyone, seeing their pictures now, and hearing their voices or reading their emails takes me immediately back to the familiar family we were back at A&M. It's weird the lasting impact some people can have on your life. I'm so thankful for Jennifer, her life, and the impact she had on mine. Even though I haven't seen her in years, I miss her. I liked knowing she was walking around the same planet as me. I thought of her a lot because she was so stinkin' opinionated, I often wondered what she was thinking about when a scathing political story made headlines.
This past week has been hard and yet, she's managed to pull people out of the woodwork to remember who she was and how she impacted them. Everyone has a story and they, in the words of another sister, have been a salve to our souls. Some days, it does seem like we're a long way from the Theta house. Other days, it seems like we're just around the corner.