Always Come Back to Friends

elms gala pic

Darah started the tradition of attending the “Elms Gala” and we continue to attend each year. Pictured from left: Darah Farris, Cassady Dishman, Stephanie Heiser, and Kathryn Dhillon.

I have always loathed winter.  Snow, ice, subzero temperatures, boots, down coats, 45 layers, shoveling, short days, cancelled flights, post-Christmas blues, you name it and I really don’t like it.  I am a summer girl through and through, but I do always think of Darah when it snows and that certainly doesn’t happen in July.

Considering the 19 inches of snow that graced the city of Chicago on Super Bowl Sunday (and more after), I’ve been thinking of Darah quite a bit.  One of the things I admired most about Darah was her confidence, in herself, in the people around her, in the hope for a better future, in the power of education.  It is so appropriate that her name and her spirit live on in a scholarship fund for students.

In a few weeks, I will gather with some of my favorite Elms girls to make a ruckus at the annual school fundraiser.  I know we are all so grateful for the opportunity to come together every year and honor this woman that means so much to all of us.  As I make my way through the world and embark on new adventures, it is a centering and galvanizing experience to come back to this group of people.  These women have given me the most remarkable gift through our friendship: a simple but boundless sense of belonging in the world, that the world is ours to take and shape and inhabit.  This too is the legacy that Darah has left for us, her friends, her family, her scholarship recipients.

For me, these words are Darah:

“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery.  Be a warrior for love.” – Cheryl Strayed, tiny beautiful things

To consistently stretch in the direction of goodness, to be courageous with emotions, to love gracefully and unconditionally, to take the world by storm, to be an agent of change – this was Darah.  And this can be us too.

Written by one of Darah’s dear friends, Kathryn Dhillon