on to my "higher" education days...

on the good news side, i have figured out what “toponym” means, on the bad news side. it is going to be REALLY hard to work today’s word of the day in on this post. but i am all about doing things that are hard for the glory of the Lord and the amusement of my tens of blog readers...

as most of you know, i went to furman university, home of the purple paladins, and a school that while i am VERY proud of being an alumni, i don’t wear their initials very often (figure that out on your own). i entered that school my freshman year, ready for a toronto blessing to occur when everyone found out that i was on campus. alas it did not....

however during my freshman year, i met a gal who would become my roommate for the next three years and we would have lived together forever had adam not intervened by marrying me. he may be thinking of reconsidering his position on this, but as you can tell from the below photo, robyn is married herself and i don’t think dr. paul would like it if i moved in on him and those adorable twin girls. 

as you can also tell from the photo, robyn is drop dead gorgeous. and look at that uber cool outfit she is wearing. a white outfit with nary a grass stain on it... welcome to my college years, people. my mom and dad would even refer to robyn and “lea’s beautiful roommate” (i can’t wait to hear what my other roommate, dina, has to say about that. in a later post i will tell you what they called dina...) 

anytime mom and dad would talk about robyn to someone else, they would mention how BEAUTIFUL she was... great for the daughter’s fragile ego. and then there was robyn’s wardrobe.... imagine that sense of style being your roommate. the only redeeming factor was that she was NOT an early riser, so if she had a class before noon, she wouldn’t look quite that good. i encouraged her to take all 8 a.m. classes. i am a good friend like that.

she did have a style all of her own. she also had the most fabulous shoe collection. i wore a size 8 and so did she, but she had a foot somewhere between an 8 narrow and an 8 normal. i was an 8 normal. so she bought 8 narrow shoes and i wore them around for a day to stretch them out and then they fit her well. that is just the kind of thing that a gal does for her beloved roommate (and a chance to wear really great shoes for a day).

i will say that once robyn wore a gray dress that was NOT flattering on her. one time she didn’t look good. one time....

when i went to visit robyn one summer in the SMALL (one stop light) town that she lived in, she gave me these directions to her house... “get off of the interstate at exit 38, go down the road for a few miles. stop at the gas station and ask them where ben’s house is”... so when i stopped at the gas station, the two guys sitting in front of it yelled over to my car, “hey, you must be robyn’s roommate, we’ve been waitin’ for ya.” 

for fun, robyn and i rode bikes through the cemetery in her little bitty town. still to this day, i don’t know how a former watermelon princess from yemassee, s.c. achieved that sense of style and grace. but she did. it gives me hope for my girls. then again, robyn’s mom and sister had that same sense of style and grace, so my girls may be out of luck... more reasons for them to spend time at rah-rah’s house.

but there was more to robyn than a sense of style and her stretched out by me shoes. there was a kindness and depth to her, a sense of right and wrong, a genuine love for others, a reluctance to wake up in the morning, a tendency to stay up WAYYYY to late, and just a whole lot of fun. and in the years since college, i have seen her grow into a woman who is part college roommate and part hero.

robyn was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 30’s. she had been to (i think) her first mammogram and they found it then. it was treatable, but frightening nonetheless. i still remember that phone call from her. i wrote down everything that she said on the back of some envelope. i think i wrote it to keep my hands from shaking.

dina and i did a triathlon (the danskin susan g. koman one) to celebrate robyn’s strength and her overcoming of breast cancer. during college whenever we had walked all together in a straight line, we called it walking 3 abreast. we thought we were funny (we still think we are funny). it was ironic that dina and i did the entire triathlon as 2 abreast. and we even called robyn while we were biking (not the safest and i am sure it hurt our time, but suffice it to say that we weren’t in first place anyway). 

robyn went on despite many odds to become pregnant with twins. and then those twins were SO anxious to come out and meet dina and i, that she had to be hospitalized for a good portion of her pregnancy. to say that it was a hard pregnancy would be an understatement. but look at those two girls and you know she would do it again in an instant. she is a wonderful mother, a loving wife, and an incredible business woman. really, i don’t know when she took business classes in college (must have been in the afternoon), but she is very business savvy. she was holding back on dina and i.

she also studied fashion in nyc after college and then came back to the south and went to medical school (ok occupational therapy school, but i still maintain that she is a doctor). talk about mulit-faceted! i swear that she could do anything that she set her mind to doing. except wake up early. 

the funny thing was that as much as my parents LOVED robyn, her parents LOVED me. robyn and i could wear the exact same outfit (we did start shopping together and had some matching outfits... i know we were weird. shall i also tell you about how we both learned to sew and made shorts with each leg a different fabric print? and then there were the formal dresses we made for one dance, i still shudder to think that we wore them...) anyway back to the fact that we could have on the same outfit (in different colors, of course) and her mom would say that my outfit looked SO great and not say anything to robyn. i love her mom. and i love shrimp curry and the two are forever intertwined in my heart and mind and taste buds.

robyn’s dad went on the heaven this year, just like my mom. seems that we still have things in common. reasons to be friends, reasons to comfort each other, and reasons to celebrate the fact that a girl so full of style and grace became roommate and life long friends with one unstylish and graceless me. she taught me so much but mostly i know that wearing navy and khaki is “tough” (which in robyn’s mom’s language means “very classy and very good”).

it is a funny thing for a friend to turn into a hero. looking back on our friendship, i should have seen the signs earlier. all that beauty and grace came from a confidence in who she was and in the God she loved. it is no different today. she has faced everything with beauty and grace. and she is not only my roommate and friend, she is one of my heroes. and i would walk a mile in her stylish shoes any day... and i have done that just to stretch them out for her before.