33 years ago today my world got a little bit better. I had to endure the first 16 days of my life without my cousin, Kelly.
But then she was born.
Our moms are sisters and so we were destined to be together in family. It just so happens that we are also the most amazing kind of friends. We grew up 500 miles apart, but the good thing about long distance relationships is that when we got together we made it count. We spent countless hours in the woods together, on the beach making sand castles, and walking up and down the sidewalks of our small town in Indiana. We jumped waves, had screaming contests, played dress-up, and she and I were in charge of passing out the gifts at Christmastime. Most of our memories were made in the basement of our grandparents’ home, where we made blanket forts, ‘haunted’ houses, wrote poems, had sleepovers, and shared all of our holiday meals.
And when we weren’t together we were writing each other actual letters to be sent through the actual mail. I received my latest letter from her 16 days ago, on my birthday. Because that’s how awesome she still is.
Kelly is one of the most beautiful people I know. First of all, she is ridiculously beautiful on the outside. I probably wouldn’t like her if I didn’t know her..she’s just that pretty. But her outer beauty is exponentially amplified because she is so incredibly beautiful on the inside as well. She loves people with an intentional love (you should only know the thought and care she puts into every single gift she gives and card she writes). Her generosity is evident in the way she spends her time, energy and resources (she and her husband have recently started the most amazing ministry where they provide free housing to people who are displaced due to medical trauma…she also once gave her favorite Bible to a homeless man who had none of his own). She is wise beyond her years, compassionate beyond belief, and her gentle yet bubbly spirit is contagious to everyone she meets (if you know her, you understand this….if you don’t, I wish you could!!).
We have been dreaming together since we were children. For most of our life we lived far apart, but for 2 glorious years we were roommates in college. It was one of the many things we had planned to do together when we were young. To room together in college and be in each other’s weddings and be pregnant together. We also planned to be pediatricians and run a practice together. I guess 3 out of 4 isn’t bad.
Now that we have small children, it’s hard to have all the conversations that we want to have. We crave time together. We still gather for holiday meals in our grandparents’ basement and enjoy the ocean together, only now it’s our own children who are playing together and experiencing the moments that childhood are made of. I love that we’re still making memories. I love that we get to watch our kids play, and pass out the Christmas gifts, and jump the waves. I love that no matter what stage of life, I can call and she will listen. I love that her heart breaks with my sorrow, rejoices in my happiness, and believes in my doubt.
What a beacon of light Kelly is. During those college years I was stumbling around in my faith and she was such an anchor for me. If it weren’t for her, who knows where I would have ended up. I am so grateful to God for her. Kelly, thank you for loving like you do, for bringing an immeasurable joy to us all, for your peaceful nature, your gentle spirit, your kindhearted thoughtfulness, your faithfulness to our Savior, and your never-ending fountain of encouragement. I love you so very much.
I think Grandmother said it best, in her poem entitled ‘Kelly’:
I see you now above the binding cords of earth,
Climbing, soaring upward on wings of joyful mirth;
Chasing the winds of success with triumphant, easy grace,
Gliding high on faith in God through the sanctity of peace.
The little girl that warmed our hearts with laughter and with fun,
Now brings more joy and pleasure than the day that she was born;
Still tender, full of wonder, unspoiled by the passing of time,
A sacred, daily reminder of God’s pure and perfect design.
I hope you have had the most wonderful birthday imaginable!!!
‘I thank my God every time I remember you.’ Phil. 1:3