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You know that woman you hardly know, but you’d love to be friends with her? She seems funny and smart and just so cool. But she has other friends and you travel in different circles, and you just think to yourself, “She has enough friends—she doesn’t need anyone else in her life”. You should probably think again.

Years ago a super funny and smart and cool woman named Suzanne attended my church. She was married with two kids and pregnant with twins. I didn’t know Suzanne, not really. But I wanted to. I wanted to get to know her better, but she had her life all together and didn’t need another friend.

Suzanne had her twins—Aidan and Anna. Life continued for everyone, and I was no closer to being friends with Suzanne. Two years later, Tommy and my youngest son became friends. Suzanne had invited Cameron over a few times to play, and I reciprocated. We never exchanged more than a casual greeting as we swapped kids—she had three other children in tow and wore that frazzled mom look so well. She didn’t have time for coffee and a chat. 

Life Changed in an Instant

Aidan and Anna took a nap at their grandparents’ house one afternoon. Aidan woke up, toddled over to a bookshelf, and pulled it over on himself while Anna slept. Their grandmother looked in on twins, saw Aidan under the bookshelf, and called 911. But it was too late.

I didn’t know what to do, since I hardly knew Suzanne, so I dropped to my knees in prayer. Cameron insisted he needed to be at the funeral, because Tommy was sad and needed a hug. Our whole family attended, and afterwards Suzanne invited us for traditional Southern comfort food. Cameron colored a picture for Tommy, and his mother hung it on the refrigerator. We said our goodbyes and prayed for Tommy and his family on the way home. I honestly believed that was the end of my connection with Suzanne.

The Phone Call

At the start of summer Suzanne called me. “You make scrapbooks, don’t you? I want to make one of Aidan. And I need your help.” I held back the sobs long enough to agree. 

“Gather as many pictures of Aidan as you can. We’ll sort through them and pick your favorites.”

We hustled the kids to Suzanne’s backyard pool and gathered our supplies on the outside table. “I changed my mind, I don’t want to do that album anymore.” Suzanne shoved the tears to the back of her throat. “I want to make an album of the year we lived in Hawaii, before Aidan and Anna. It was a peaceful, beautiful time. Yes, definitely! That’s what I want.”

We sifted through the photos, pausing as Suzanne spilled the memories. She and her husband chose grand adventure in Hawaii. Shane taught for year, and they rented a tiny apartment near the beach. It was just the four of them, going to the beach daily and walking everywhere. As Suzanne relived the fun and the laughter, the lines on her face melted. Her grief hid under a rock, just for a short time, but it was beautiful.

We headed to Suzanne’s once a week, and I adopted her signature drink, Diet Cherry Sprite. I cherished the drive thru and our standard drink order, and bursting through Suzanne’s door loaded down with Styrofoam cups of joy. The kids played in harmony, and we finished the Hawaiian photo album. 

Beauty in the Ashes

We continued our weekly visits and drink stops and pool time, sipping our Diet Cherry Sprite while the kids played. Some days Suzanne talked about Aidan. Some days she talked about her husband and his grief. Sometimes, she wanted me to talk about my life and my family. I always let her lead the conversation and I always affirmed her emotions. When she was angry with God I told her I would be too. When she said she couldn’t wait to be with Aidan in Heaven, I expressed my excitement to be there too. Our conversations weren’t meant to take away her grief or solve her problems—they had to be whatever Suzanne needed them to be.

As summer drifted away, Suzanne and I couldn’t continue our weekly playdates. We made a date for the Friday after school started, and agreed to take it from there.

“God has thrown me into a pit of darkness, and I’d never wish it on anyone. But He has brought such an abundance of blessings that I could never imagine, either.”

Her statement surprised me. “How Suzanne? How could there be any blessings?” She smiled. “Well Jann, you and I wouldn’t be friends now, would we?”


Jann Franklin is a faith-based cozy mystery writer attracting readers who enjoy twisty Southern mysteries with a touch of romance and a dose of humor.

Her books offer mysteries in Louisiana with curious clues and characters who exasperate as much as they endear.

Learn More about Jann and her books at


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