One fine day I walked into a nail salon to treat myself to a pedicure. Little did I know that I would meet one of my very favorite strays. By nature, I am a talker, especially to strangers. Ladies in the nail salon are typically quietly relaxing with phones, magazines or a book. One young woman stood out the most, as she had her nose in a book that I recently read by Karin Slaughter. Karin is a phenomenal author of thriller books that captivate you from the first paragraph. The book was also a library book which is always a delight to see in the community.
By the time our pedicure was complete this young woman and I were Best Friends Forever. Her name is Rebecca Phillips. She has the most striking blue eyes I have ever seen. I learned that she was an attorney in Greensboro, NC and recently returned to her parents to save money to buy her first home. The poor woman did not have a chance to get away from my attention and interest in her story. Her quick wit and sarcasm made me laugh until I cried.
One thing she said to me that day stuck with me, “You like to pick up strays!” Confused, I asked her what she meant. She went on to explain, “You seek out people to connect with and then bring them into your tribe so they know that they are welcomed and encouraged.” I stopped and thought about all of the stories we shared with each other in the past 2 hours, and I realized she was right. While on any road trip I make friends and include them in my life from then on. From that point forward Rebecca was part of the Sunday Sushi ritual and was invited to every local event that I was able to attend. Rebecca was often unavailable. You see, Rebecca is a person who everyone wanted in their tribe. There were endless birthday parties, weddings, showers and events that she was included in. I had the privilege to learn how amazing of a friend she is.
I took a month-long trip out West in September of 2017. At one of our many sushi nights, I asked if she wanted to play house at my home while I was gone. She jumped at the opportunity. In my true hyper-organized fashion, I created a Welcome to my home guide and rules of dog care, since she would be sharing the home with my 2 dogs. Rebecca laughed at my guide while greatly appreciating my organization skills. Upon return, I knew something was a bit off with the dogs. They are not allowed to sleep on the bed with me, but now they lingered on the side while just staring at me. They did the same when I sat on my couch, which they aren’t allowed on either. To say thank you I took Rebecca out to dinner. When she arrived at the house before dinner, the dogs went crazy for her. I asked if by any chance had the dogs snuggled with her on the couch or maybe even on the bed. She smiled, rolled her eyes sheepishly and looked at the dogs and said, “I thought we had a talk about this before I left. You were not to tell your mother that I promptly broke all of the rules she set for you the moment she left! This was to be between you and I. That is why I washed all of the bedding and blankets I put over the couch so she’d never know” Again, I was laughing so hard tears came to my eyes.
During dinner, I shared with her the people I met and stories of hiking. Rebecca smiled and said, “You were picking up those strays again.” I promptly told her that she was my very favorite stray.
Rebecca went on to start a very creative business in addition to her long work hours as an attorney. Sadly, our time together dwindled over the past few months. When I learned that she unexpectedly passed away suddenly on January 27, 2018, my heart broke wide open. This beautiful person was only 31 years old. Her life had barely begun in many ways but was so accomplished in other ways. I will forever be grateful to have had Rebecca in my life. I simply wish it had been longer, for she was my favorite stray!