I love you my friend. I love that I even get the chance to call you my friend. The special closeness that we have is such a foreign concept to so many and I will never take it for granted. We have been friends now for 8 years. 8 Years that seem like an amazing lifetime. I don't remember what it was like to not have you in my life.
When you moved here to Minnesota from Texas, you were struggling. You were away from family, away from friends and struggling with northern winters. Everything you had always known wasn't there anymore. When you moved in across the street, I was delighted. I brought flowers or bread that I made, we seem to disagree to this day on which one it was. But I wanted so desperately to meet you. Such a beautiful woman with stunning red hair, I was in awe of your outward beauty. But then I was inspired by what I saw in your heart.
You loved your kids fiercely. And then one day, almost as if I hadn't seen it happening right before my own eyes, I saw how much you loved my children. You took care of them, loved on them, encouraged them, laughed with them, held them close and treasured them. Not only did you love me daily, you loved my kids. When you loved my kids, you became an even more important person in my life.
The hours that we spent drinking coffee together and laughing. Playgroups and mom's groups and mornings at the library and mall. Always something on the calendar to look forward to. I was excited when our kids enjoyed playing with each other because it meant even more time together for us.
Our families have always fit so well together. Our husbands craved male friendship without even knowing it was something that they were missing in their lives. They fit together so perfectly. Laughing together and talking about what really matters. They helped each other around our homes and put their great minds together to solve tough problems. Their friendship is one that is envied by other men in their circle.
Our families started worshiping together each Sunday. Your family was so amazing and accommodating sitting where Zach was comfortable. (our son with Autism) He was so happy to have you near each Sunday and knew he could smile at you right down the aisle when they began to sing a favorite song. And our husbands started going to bible study together on Mondays and we started going together to the women's study on Tuesdays. What an amazing time in the Word, growing in Truth with you!
Spring breaks and summer vacations with our two families are epic! The 8 of us have conquered Duluth and Branson and the Retreat Center in Wisconsin. So many vacations that we have a hard time remembering what we did on each trip. We prepare meals together, take long walks down dirt roads, swim, laugh, enjoy bonfires and s'mores, talk for hours, pray together, and sometimes even cry together.
We have seen each other through some very difficult times. Surgeries, serious health problems, family turmoil, aging parents, parents passing away. These times were never easy, but we were never alone. We have walked side by side. Supporting each other, loving each other and always being there for each other. That is what friends do when waters become too deep to stand.
A year and a half ago, your husbands job transfer moved your family out of the home just across the street and to Georgia. I remember in those days before you left how much time I spent thinking. How was I going to do each day without you? I couldn't just knock on your door and ask for a hug and have prayer time at the kitchen table. I wouldn't be able to stop and talk with you on my way to work when you were outside mowing the lawn. We wouldn't be able to worship side by side every Sunday morning. How was I going to function on daily basis without my best friend near?
It took prayer. A whole lot of prayer. A whole lot of time in the Word. It still takes that. This 1 1/2 years later, your absence still stings. It hurts my heart deeper than I care to admit most days. Your physical presence. Your hand squeezes. Your words of assurance and affirmation. I still need them.
I have enjoy two trips to see you and you have flown up from Georgia to Minnesota two times. Our families have met the last two Spring Breaks in Branson, we came to you last summer and you will all fly to us this summer. I love that we have the means to travel. To vacation. To be with each other. Our trips are never as long as we would like, but they are so very important and I would never trade them for the word. To share meals together, and play games together. To laugh and explore together. To try new things and watch our children play together. These times together are exactly what makes my heart soar.
I may have just left you in Branson a few weeks ago and already I am counting the days down until summer. I can't wait to see you. To hug you. To tell you it has been too long. My treasured friend. Your family of 4 has become our family. The 8 of us. Our chosen family. We love you more than words can say. And I am thankful that we get to continue enjoying life together. Even all 1,199 miles apart from each other. Because distance just makes our hearts grow fonder.
Laura, my dear heart. Thank you. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your family. Thank you for you.
Always and Forever,
Kelli J Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of 22 years and two crazy kids. She is a Writer, a Professional Organizer and owns two companies. She enjoys writing, reading, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. She abhors walks on the beach (sand in places no one wishes sand to be), candle lit dinners, (can’t see) and the idea of cooking two nights in a row (no thank you).Check out Kelli J Gavin on Facebook and on Twitter and Instagram: @KelliJGavin and her blog: http://kellijgavin.blogspot.com/