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.
“Nice to meet y’all,” she said in a very charming Southern way.
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 our glaring differences, 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 boys. And talking about boys some 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.
Our friendship in this life, though, was cut short.
In September of 2004, after a brief but brutal battle with cancer, Alex died 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.
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.”
Quentin L. Cook said: “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. 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.