Although I’m writing about a charming garden that sits outside the Addlestone Library established to honor my dearest friend, my space at the College of Charleston isn’t actually a physical place at all. Rather, it’s a nod of gratitude toward an amazing friend who would come to immeasurably change and enrich my life.

In 1986, two nervous freshmen, ready for the first day of class, stood toe to toe in the dorm’s slow-but-steady elevator. Our identical outfits from the Gap helped ease us into a first conversation, which quickly signaled we would be friends.

Mandi Petway had a sparkle. She just did. She treasured each day and each friend with a certainty, which was inspiring. Together, we experienced many firsts at the College, and we enjoyed being constantly surrounded by laughter. A positive attitude – just one of Mandi’s many incredible qualities – would prove to be her secret weapon against an illness she would battle for her four years at the College. Mandi’s deep faith was also mature for a college student and was a tremendously encouraging example to me at a time of my life when I was most impressionable.

Mandi graduated from the College in 1990. Her battle with cancer ended just a few years later, when she was called to heaven to dance with the angels.

For many, the simple garden by the library and the scholarship in her name stand in testimony to her kindness, friendships and presence at the school. For me, they are sweet reminders of the most important space for all of us.

My hope and prayer for all those who visit her garden are that, in this busy world, they may be reminded to keep a special space in their hearts for friendship. It was a blessing beyond measure to know and love Mandi, and I remain so very grateful to the College for bringing us together.

“If I could sit across the porch from God, I’d thank him for lending me you.”

– Molly Brandhorst McMahon ’90