I’m pretty sure I met her one of the first few days I was in Missoula, having just landed the first job of my career.
I didn’t know anyone out there, which was fine. I rather enjoy being an anonymous soul at times.
But for some reason .. this wonderful woman, a woman I know others (at least in the role I was in) felt could be gruff, easily agitated and not someone you could get too close to .. took me under her wing.
Chari is her name ..
And every year when we return to Montana to see friends, who are like family ..
She is always one of our stops.
Chari was behind the counter at the police station the first time we met. Every time I would go over for a beat check on the crime scene, we would end up talking about one topic more often than not, but usually there was a little bit of everything under the sun.
Chatting over the counter quickly turned into coffee every Sunday night after we would get off of work. We would pack up and head over to a little 24 hour restaurant that sits over one of the creeks that flows through town. It was quiet, out of the way .. and the staff let us sit for hours ordering maybe only toast and refills, while we talked about life.
It was something we did for over at the very least, a two year stretch.
If I were ever heading in any way astray, she would and still does quickly put me back in my place, with a lot of love .. or if I were troubled about so many of the life decisions one has to make at the tender age of 25 about life and love and career and where to live and all that stuff .. she would offer perspective and allow me gracious room to make my own (mistakes) decisions. And she has supported me however any of them have turned out.
We still get together for dinner or coffee.
Not as often as I’d like, though.
Not nearly as often as I would like.
Although we only talk a few times a year outside of any in-person visits, I think of her always and love her dearly.