Friday, April 20, 2007


So, I had a strange/awesome/sad experience today.

Out of the blue, a girl who just got her mission call to wonderful NY got my email address off the mission website and had a few questions. Today we met for lunch. Looking at her, so excited and nervous and endearing, brought back a big fat flood of about-to-leave emotions.
I remember when my mission was still imaginary, when I wasn't sure if I'd go, when I found out where I was going, when the whole thing was an exciting but totally blank slate stretching before me. Before I knew how much it aches to watch someone feel it then still decide to close the door, and before I knew how it felt to almost explode from happiness, despite your nasty sweatpits and even though you've been wearing the same skirt for a month, you don't even notice because you just met someone that said they'd pray and you could tell they meant it. Anyway, I could tell from our hour-long lunch date that this girl was a fantastic, capable, dedicated person and ready for the adventure. Her not-so-into-church mom came too, and cried a lot, and it was just exhilarating to feel the just-about-to-be-a-missionary vibe and think about all that is ahead for her and her family.

Anyway, I left the law school around noon today (after a mind-numbing contracts exam...rage...rage...) and was supposed to meet them about 45 minutes away for lunch at 1. Randomly, it popped into my head to stop by the fam's and grab my old mission coat in case this girl needed it. But let's be honest, I love my mission coat in all its frumpy, puffy, pet-hair-ridden glory, and wasn't sure I was ready to part with it, and also wasn't sure I had time to stop to get it. Just as I was thinking that, my phone rang and she asked if we could meet at 1:30 bc they were running behind. A sign! Now that I had time, I decided to grab the coat, though I felt a) a little sad even thinking about parting with it and b) dumb for even wanting to bring it, since I hadn't even seen this girl and she could easily be five feet tall or six feet tall and my dumpy old coat may not even fit, IF she even wanted it. So, it turns out she doesn't have a big winter coat yet. She tried it on in the parking lot and it fit perfectly and she's taking it with her!

I still don't know how to describe it. I am trying to find the right words and keep striking out. I'm just not sure how to explain it. But something just hit me, seeing how sweet she was, and excited, and nervous, and charismatic, and curious about the future...just imagining what the next year and a half holds for her really got to me. And something about handing her my coat, and watching her put it on, and remembering when I found it on sale the day before I left, and the tag was already way cheaper than anything else I'd found, and then it magically rang up at the register as $40 less than the tag price. Just thinking about all the places I wore that coat, and all the times I'd have to air it out after being in a smokey house for an hour, or all the times I'd wipe mud off it after a rainy adventure, or standing outside Brian's house in the rain wringing it out, or the little kids that would try to hide under it bc it was so long and puffy. Or how glad I was that it was a little big, so that I could wear three skirts and three sweaters underneath it without feeling squished, and how goofy I felt when I first saw my reflection when I was wearing it, but how it got to feel like a second skin in the winter, and the worn-out spot where I'd clip my nametag, or buttoning it up tight the day that we tracted for four hours and our hair froze but we were miraculously still warm.

There was just something about remembering so vividly everything I did wearing that coat, and handing to her, and watching her zip it up. She held her arms out and laughed, and I could feel her excitement and it reminded me that my mission is really over and that hers is about to begin and it was sad and beautiful.


McKay said...


Neat story!

Nikki said...

Wow. You have quite a way with words. I felt every emotion as you shared this. Think of all the memories she will make with your puffy coat. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm dying here. I was looking for comic relief before my next 4 finals and instead, I'm feeling nolstalgic. But I do love the feeling of going back to the mission. I'm in the library and the people around me are so distracted by their own stress that they are thankfully not noticing the sad, something, something else look on my face. luff you Gurr,

Anonymous said...

I almost was in tears after reading this... I too passed my puffy coat on and often wonder who they visit in that coat and sometimes wish I could hide under it and see and feel what they are seeing and feeling. Its odd how objects like that can make you feel and remember so vividly. This is why I have refused to throw away my ratty mission shoes. They are a reminder to where I walked everyday and what life changing experiences they carried me through. ..sigh thank you for blogging that experience.

Linds said...

Reading that just made me relive so many of my mission moments. I'm forever grateful that the Lord allows bumbling, crazy young adults to be his representatives around the world, and that people occasionally actually listen to them and let the message change their lives.
love ya,

gurrbonzo said...

HEY! who are you calling bumbling!?

Ashley said...

my coat would definitely pass on the sister frump...with that comes other great things, no doubt.

Erika Sullivan said...

I loved this story, Kathleen. I still have my mission coat that I purchased from Etam in Strasbourg, France. The lining is totally ripped and the wool is nobby and worn-down in parts, and the Jeffer is always asking, "Why are you hanging onto that? Do you EVER think you'll wear it again?" The answer is no, but I can't part with it. Too many memories. Thanks for reminding me of some good ones.