Kindred Spirits: Autumn Stanley, Part I

My name is Autumn, but Kara often called me her Diana. We met in North Carolina, October of 2004. I had a 19-month old and she had Ella, 3, and Harper, who was only a month old. I am quiet, especially in a large crowd, and Kara was not quiet and crowds brought out the best in her; yet we hit it off quickly. Neither of us could remember the exact moment when we became close, but it was shortly after meeting and my family buying a house across a main road from the Tippetts the following July. We may not remember the exact moment of intimate friendship, but through the years we often remarked how thankful we were that God gave us each other.

I remember my first meal at the Tippetts’ house: we sat and discussed churches, playgroup, friendships, marriage. We talked and talked and talked. Kara was really good at question asking. At the time, our family was searching for a church, and Kara and Jason invited us to theirs. We accepted and ended up staying there for many years. Kara and I laughed often about how she later told me that she had actually hoped I would be a friend that didn’t go to her church!

When I think back over our friendship, the thing that stands out the most is that we made time for one another. We actively sought to stick together during a time that can be lonely…We were both stay-at-home moms. We worked to be honest and authentic in our relationship, encouraging one another. We would spend hours on the phone even when we lived across the road from one another. Through the years, I had another child and she had two more. Our kids played together and often, in summer months, we swam and ate ice cream; our kids were as big a part of our friendship as we were. We were also involved in women’s ministries and bible studies, we were in the same playgroup, and we often played Bunco together as well.

We both loved books and would read and discuss them; that’s where the Anne and Diana thing came from—we both loved the Anne of Green Gables series and read and re-read them. We talked about bosom friends, and we both wanted to “be Anne”. After Kara was diagnosed, I got an email from her saying that now that she was sick, she got to be Anne. And so it was…. Kara became my Anne-Girl.

Kara and I enjoyed shopping together. I am a big shopper, Kara not so much….but then we would go and she would spend the most money. This became a joke between us; she’d call: ”I’m broke! Let’s go shopping and I will spend more money than you.” She liked bruise colors—greens, browns, and muted yellows. Every color I didn’t like. It worked well because we never wanted to buy the same stuff.

The Tippetts moved to Colorado December of 2011, the same year I went back to teaching full time. God’s timing amazes me. We got all my stay-at-home years together in the same town, sometimes across the street. As we each moved on to new chapters we had no idea what was in store.

As a parting gift, Kara made me a photo book. At the same time, I was making her a photo book. We didn’t even know we were both doing it. What she wrote on the last page of my book articulates our friendship perfectly: “Autumn, I will never forget the day we met. It was a very good day! I have never deserved a friendship like the one we have had, but I thank Jesus for every moment we shared. I look at the book and well up with gratitude. I will miss you more than you can imagine, but my prayers for your family continue. I cannot wait to see what the Lord has in store for you and your family. With believers, it’s never goodbye. I love you friend. I love every moment we shared.”