Love is a verb.

Dear friends,

The view from my friend’s back porch in Oklahoma.

I got home late last night from my trip home.  It made my heart ache and it made my heart full.

As I was standing outside St. Catherine’s Church a few minutes before the funeral, the father of my friend Janet passed me on the sidewalk. He’s been divorced from Janet’s mother for many years now, but he looked as heartbroken as anyone. He gave me a big hug and said “How are you doing, Joan-Marie?”

Without thinking, I said the first thing that popped into my head: “I’m happy to be back in the place where people call me Joan-Marie.”

And so it was that in less than 24 hours, I hugged half my hometown, cried a few tears, tried to follow along with a Catholic rosary service and funeral, whispered and giggled under my breath with the Js on a church pew as if we were 17 again, caught up with former neighbors and friends and teachers, told  Janet’s children how proud their mother was of them, snapped photos at the burial as if it was a class reunion, gave thanks during the Lord’s prayer for all the souls around me that I’ve loved for so many years, pigged out on the first decent Mexican food I’ve had in a year, and stood on the back porch of my friend’s house and breathed in the Oklahoma prairie that calms me.

It was a whirlwind trip, made better by the fact that Kate went with me and did all the driving. She also chose the playlist and John Mayer’s “Love is a verb” seemed an apropos anthem for our pilgrimage. All that driving and talking and hugging and crying and laughing and whispering and praising and photographing and eating and the breathing, too — that was our love in action.

I’m tired today from all the loving. But I’ve got a lot more to do because Kate graduates tonight.

So I’m off — to love us all right through it.

With gratitude {for these days the Lord hath made},

Joan-Marie, who knows you can always go home



  1. Happy Graduation Day! I believe having Kate to drive you to Mayberry and observe the ways life long friends celebrate and commiserate as the occasion requires, may be the best graduation/induction-into-adult-life type gift any young woman could ever receive.

  2. Congratulations to Kate and her Mom and Dad. Will be thinking of the Nesbitts this evening as you celebrate this joyous occasion.

  3. Juanita Clark says:

    Congratulations, Kate. Happy Forever after.

  4. Congratulations to Kate and you and Doug! Enjoy every minute of the graduation.

  5. Maridel says:

    This is a lovely post, Joan-Marie. The fact that I am reading it in Paris just adds to the wonder of it all, I guess. I hugged Kayla today at the Musee d’Orsay. I guess that also adds to the wonder of it all, huh? HAPPY GRADUATION, KATE!

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