On Sunday, April 3rd the unimaginable happened. My best friend, Crystal Dean, was called home to be with Jesus. Her passing was very sudden and without warning. If you follow my blog at all you will recognize her name as she was the friend who God brought into my life to walk with me through my infertility and adoption journey. As I have been preparing for her Memorial Service and reflecting on our friendship I wrote some memories down and thought I would share them here.
Crystal was my best friend. When we met she would tell you that she thought I was pretty weird. But God knew we needed each other and so our friendship began. I was in Room 3 and she was in Room 2. To this day when I visit Haley Elementary and I walk by those rooms I can picture us both inside teaching Kindergarten. And truth be told taking multiple breaks throughout the day to email each other funny things our students did and said.
One of the first things I remember about Crystal is that although she had been a Christian for awhile she was excited to start taking her faith more seriously. She shared that she was recently baptized because she wanted the world to know how much she loved Jesus and longed to follow him. I find comfort today knowing she is with Jesus this very moment.
Crystal was the first friend I texted. Yes I am old enough to remember what life was like before texting. She was at IKEA buying supplies for her classroom when she sent me my first text with a picture in it. Back then every text cost $ and if you sent pictures it cost even more $. Let’s just say we had to change our cell phone plans to accommodate our growing friendship. At night while my husband and I would be watching TV, my phone would start going off crazily-notification after notification. My husband wondered what was wrong. Oh it’s just Crystal I said. We text a lot and the message doesn’t fit in one text so it just carries over to the next one. And the next one. And the next one. It’s a good thing plans today come with unlimited texting!
As we got to know one another better we started sharing more intimate parts of our lives. I shared that we had been trying to have a baby for almost a year. She excitedly told me that she and her husband were planning on trying to get pregnant soon as well. Two years later and not one positive pregnancy test between the two of us we both found ourselves grateful for one another’s support. It was Crystal’s shoulder I cried on when I didn’t think I could handle another pregnancy announcement or attend another baby shower.
I remember the day Crystal shared her excitement for adoption with me. She had so much love to share with a baby and was hopeful she could love a baby as her own-even if it didn’t come from her own womb. Little did I know that God would also plant a heart for adoption within me as well.
During the 2011-2012 school year, God granted our deepest desires and longings: we both became Mommas. My husband and I brought home our oldest son, Nathan in October of that year and Ivy came in March. When we got the call that a baby in Tucson had just been born and needed a home the first person I called was Crystal. She wondered why I was sobbing hysterically.
I vividly remember the day that Crystal learned she was going to be a Mom. We were standing outside of her room. I was talking excitedly (and probably loudly) when I realized something was going on and it wasn’t just a casual conversation between husband and wife over the phone. It was the day before spring break and parent teacher conferences were scheduled for the afternoon. Crystal left for the hospital and I was instructed to share with each one of her parents that an emergency had occurred and Mrs. Dean would have to reschedule. Oh how hard it was not to shout from the rooftops that there was no emergency-my best friend was meeting her baby!
When I found out my husband and I would be moving back to California the thing I knew I would miss most was Crystal’s friendship. Although miles separated us our friendship did not fade-in a lot of ways it even grew stronger. I remember when Crystal was at home bonding with her baby on adoption leave and how weird it felt to be at school without her. When I shared I would be moving she told me that she thought God had already been preparing us to be separated. If we could teach without one another next door we could make a long distance friendship work.
Luckily we found time together still even when living far away. I flew back to watch a Judge declare that Ivy Rose was a Dean on her adoption day. Bobby, Crystal and Ivy drove over to attend Nathan’s first birthday party. We vacationed together in San Diego-twice! Went to Sea World and the beach. My family flew back for Ivy’s 1st Birthday. Precious memories that I will not soon forget. I just wish I had more pictures-but we must have been having too much fun together (or truth be told the cameras were pointed at our cute kids-not ourselves!)
When I learned that Crystal had gone to be with Jesus my heart broke in two. My heart still hurts but it is slowly healing. And that’s only because I have a Father in Heaven who knows what it feels like to suffer loss. And if you don’t know this Savior I speak of personally-please contact me. Crystal knew him intimately and is with Him even now.
I have received so many messages, texts and e-mails from people sharing how much Crystal meant to them. She truly made an impact while here on Earth and she will not be soon forgotten. Crystal loved her Savior with her whole heart. She chose to “Shine Bright” for him here on Earth. I speak with confidence when I say that I know I will see her again. But for now I find myself longing for a text from heaven from my best friend, Crystal Dean.