On this day, an undisclosed number of years ago, my best friend debuted, and the world has never been the same. One day shy of April Fool’s Day, Joy’s birthday is a day worth national recognition.
Many people who know me well understand that the dark side of organized religion left a strong impression on my life during my early teenage years. After my family experienced an ugly church dispute that ended with a beloved minister resigning, we felt lead to leave this particular church, and followed a recommendation to visit a church half an hour away from my hometown. My family visited on a Sunday morning, and the Sunday school teacher for my age group extended an invitation for all of us to attend the Wednesday service. Little did I know at the time that I would owe this man a lifetime of happiness. Wednesday night, my family sat together and this same teacher came back around to say hello. After shaking my parents’ hands, he looked at me, said: “You need a friend” and promptly disappeared. Being an outsider in a new place is never easy, and David Tapp had made his mind up to help me become an insider. David returned five minutes later with Joy, gave her a short introduction, and left her with my family.
The high school Joy spoke softly, when she spoke at all. Despite suffering from painful shyness, Joy stuck out the service by my side, and even made a little small talk. When my family returned for the next Wednesday’s service, Joy dutiful returned to my side, and she did so again and again, until at some point she was no longer that nice girl from Harriman, but instead she was my friend.
Joy and I kept intermittent contact after I left for college, connecting more over summers, but rarely did we speak more than once or twice a month. Then I started planning my wedding… Hold on folks, this gal can plan a wedding like no one else. Now we had a reason to talk every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and Joy quickly took the place in my heart reserved only for the absolute closest of friends. She made wedding planning one of the funnest times of my life, and somewhere in that process she became a member of my family. Both of my parents, my grandmother, my husband, and even Ian all ask “Where’s Joy?” when she’s not able to attend a family function. At times, she even talks to my other family members more than she’s able to talk to me!
If I could go back in time, I would wrap my arms around David Tapp and offer him the biggest hug I could give. I had no idea at the time that this person he brought me would become another one of the guys to hang out with Brinn, a gal for my mom to pal around with, and the best possible Auntie Ian could ever hope for.
Happy birthday, dear friend. We love you!