By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy column, Nodaway News Leader
The first time I met Alex was about a week before classes were to begin my freshman year at BYU.
I knocked on the door of what would be my home for that first year of college, not knowing if anyone had moved in yet.
She opened the door holding a blow dryer and a brush, barefoot but dressed fashionably conservative, and her make-up fully done.
I noticed her lipstick.
I don’t remember what I was wearing, but I’m sure it was something like a T-shirt and basketball shorts and probably even a baseball hat.
I was not wearing lipstick – I didn’t even own lipstick – nor was I wearing any make-up for that matter.
Initial judgment (and not one of my best moments in life): Please don’t let her be my roommate.
“Nice to meet y’all,” she said in a very charming Southern way.
So this is the Texas roommate. Well, I do love her accent.
I lived in an on-campus apartment-style dorm my first year with five other girls. We had all written letters to each other before moving in to introduce ourselves. There were two from Utah, one from California, one from Kentucky, one from Texas and me from Missouri.
Alexandria Wagley from Gladewater, TX, was about as opposite of me as one could be. We ended up sharing a bedroom in that apartment, and despite my initial ridiculous first impression of her, we quickly became best friends.
We were roommates for two more years before I moved to California. And we had some amazing experiences together. Most of my memories from college involve her in some way. Football games, religion class, late-night Taco Bell runs, listening to music and singing when we should’ve been studying, watching “Friends” and “Seinfeld” and “ER,” driving up into the mountains, talking about guys and so much more.
After I got married and started a family, we didn’t get to see each other much, living 1,200 or so miles away from each other. But we kept in touch as much as we could, in the days before texting and Facebook. When we did get together, though, it was as if we’d never been apart.
But our friendship in this life was cut short. Ten years ago last week, Alex died after a brief but brutal battle with cancer at the age of 29.
I miss her terribly. But she taught me so much in such a short amount of time that I feel she is with me every day. And I could go on and on about all of the things she taught me but I could fill a book.
What I loved most about her was that she was genuinely happy and genuinely good. And her Texas ways always made everything more fun.
In the years since Alex’s death, I’ve kept in touch with her mom. She once wrote me: “Alexandria always continued on and endured cheerfully. She had so many disappointments, but she always came up smiling. She was such an example for me. She was THE force for good in our family.”
It’s been said that you become like the five people you spend the most time with, so choose carefully. And I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, with the anniversary of her death.
I love this quote by Quentin L. Cook: “People have so much to offer us if we are willing to learn from them. That is why it is important to surround yourself with good people.”
So that is my challenge for all of us. Choose your friends wisely – surround yourself with good people. We can learn a lot from them if we are willing, just like I did from Alex, who continues to bless my life in countless ways.