echos of laughter

At Misawa Airbase, Japan, Kath, Cathy and I met once a week, sometimes with Mikelle or Amy, at different times every week – with a new mom, a active-duty fiancé, two dentists, and a fighter pilot, finding a time to meet was a challenge. But for all our differences, those conversations meant the world to me; they gave me much-needed sanity and perspective. Kath’s seriousness offset Cathy’s easy laughter, and both displayed insight impressive to behold.


One Friday in Misawa in December 2001, I witnessed the Cathy and Matt Simmons’s Justice of the Peace wedding – a laughter-filled event that lasted maybe 10 minutes. Matt joked that for all the excitement, he might be buying a car; Cathy just laughed. A month later, they made their marriage official, with several of us military folks standing on both sides of the couple. Because we were coming from all over the world for the big event, Cathy had set up bridesmaid dresses we could order online with just our measurements. Apparently the idea of the dressmaker was to make them big so they can be tailored – because every skirt was a small tent and the shirts fit so poorly that we subtly replaced them at a factory outlet store on the way in from the airport. We also picked up a covey of safety pins to hold the skirts on. The shoes fit right in with the rest of the outfit –high-heeled and mis-fit. So behind Cathy at the wedding was an undulating row of women in pinned-on floor-length skirts, standing in our shoes as long as we could, then freeing our feet and shrinking several inches until we could bear the shoes again.


We agreed that before the wedding, we should tell Cathy nothing of this. But as she looked absent-mindedly at us after the ceremony, a confused expression slowly appeared on her face. “I thought the shirts had a bow…” We couldn’t conceal the truth any longer and Cathy joined us for a good hearty laugh.


I next saw Cathy and Matt at Mikelle and Bill’s wedding where Sandi was my date. Cathy and Matt hadn’t changed a bit; they were as joyful and affectionate as ever. We asked for their secret because we wanted to be like that in 3 years. “Be goofy,” they said, advice we follow regularly.


When I spoke with Cathy two weeks ago, she mentioned that she hadn’t been feeling well as she prepared to start her new job. I learned last night that she had finally gone to the hospital – where they removed a malignant football-sized tumor from her abdominal area, along with pieces and parts of several organs.


I, and Cathy and Matt I’m sure, would very much appreciate your prayers as they deal with this great challenge of ovarian cancer.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.



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