A hyphen acts as a symbol that brings two separate words together to create one unified word, with new meaning. This symbol connects us, symbolically, with those souls whose paths miraculously cross our own in this moment on earth. If by chance a hyphen is formed between the two, regardless of time or circumstance, these souls now have new meaning due to one another. We are simply people made up of other people. The hyphen connects. The hyphen creates. The hyphen paints the big picture. Writers for this blog series have chosen people in their lives whom they feel they'd be someone different, or less, without. Together they create new meaning.
Claire was my roommate my freshman year of college. She was a quiet, kind, loving, humble, joyful, energetic girl and ended up becoming one of my closest friends and a person who completely changed my life.
Freshman year started rocky, I was 3,000 miles from my family, dealing with the loss of a great role model, and experiencing the challenges of freshman year in a new place, surrounded by new people. I needed someone who would let me speak without interrupting, someone who would listen without judging, someone who would let me process and give me grace while I stumbled along and figured out who I was, what I believed, and who I wanted to become.
Unbeknownst to me, I needed Claire.
In the months since our time living together has ended, I have come to realize more and more how much she impacted my life in the short 9 months we spent living together.
She is one of those people who you automatically feel loved by. As soon as we met she hugged me and was excited to meet me and get to know me. Even if that first meeting was on the side of the street by Wallace Field right on Nickerson; an incredibly busy street surrounded by countless people and an awaiting mother wanting us to hurry into the car.
Claire has been a voice of reason and wisdom; of love and acceptance; of friendliness and compassion, in a tumultuous storm of events both good and bad. She has been constant and has supported me in ways that I don’t think she is even aware of. Claire taught me the importance of talking and processing events and feelings and interactions out loud. She is very much a verbal processor and until knowing her, I didn’t realize that I was too and that so much confusion for me came from not knowing how to talk about things. She was there for me at 1am when I lost my great grandma and she was there for me at 9pm when I returned from a first date. She sat with me in tears of sorrow and tears of joy. She supported my adventurous heart and drove me across the state just to see an old friend for 3 days, when she really didn’t have to.
Claire was and is one of my absolute favorite people and the impact she had on me is immense. She was certainly more than just a freshman year roommate for me. She was my loving support and my gentle guidance. She called me out on my bad choices and gave me grace as I recovered from them. She was a constant source of encouragement in a year where I was unsure of myself frequently and always trying to improve myself but having no idea where to start. Claire challenged me gently with questions that forced me to understand myself better. She helped me figure out ways to achieve the goals I set for myself, and invested more in me than I ever would have wanted to ask her to.
Even this year, as we are no longer living together and certainly seeing less of each other, she still plays a strong role in my life. The impact she had on me a year ago has remained in the time following and in the times when we are together now. We are both involved in ministry and understand the struggles that the other one is facing in that and in all the commitments that come along with it. It has been such a joy to know her for the last year and a half and be able to grow together with such a lovely and compassionate person.
It is hard to put into words the exact impact she had, but without her, I know I would not be who I am today. Claire taught me how to be patient and joyful in so many circumstances that begged for less. She helped me to see my true worth and to stay true to that always. She encouraged me in my doubts and lifted me up selflessly when I felt empty or alone. Without Claire, I would have been stuck in a version of myself that I knew I could not continue being. She helped me to figure myself out and gave me a safe place to grow into who I am. She believed in me in my darkest moments and rejoiced with me in the light. For her friendship, I am forever changed and forever thankful.
by Mackenzie Martin