This week it is my honor to tell my very best friend, Kate, how so very proud I am of you.
I will always remember the moment I first saw her. I was sitting on a countertop in our high school’s “Career Center” waiting for my Driver’s Ed class to start. She turned down a hall with her mom who was one of the instructors that summer.
“Who is that?” I asked my friend.
“That’s Kate…” and with those words an interest began that has never subsided.
Kate. My best friend, confidant, mother of my child, and my wife.
Since that fateful day fourteen years or so ago, I have had the immense privilege of watching Kate become the woman she is today. From high school friend, to prom date, to girlfriend, fiancé, and wife, I have been journeying with Kate in one measure or another for nearly half our lives. And this year we will be celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary!
It’s difficult to capture the many reasons why I am so proud of my best friend Kate, so perhaps I’ll just tell a story or two…or three.
Kate and I have been on a journey from the time we started dating. I knew that I was called to be a pastor, and a United Methodist one at that. Kate had some big dreams of her own, was wrestling with what God would have for her life, and, on top of it all, was deeply rooted in her beloved Roman Catholic tradition. Through the conversations that followed, however, Kate showed her gracious spirit, thoughtful mind, and charitable heart – three qualities of hers that made me not only proud of Kate, but fall in love with her as well. In the years since, her grace, thoughtfulness, and loving heart continue to be made manifest as my career has led us to new states, numerous churches, and a wide range of experiences. Through it all, Kate’s faithful presence has upheld me. She’s always had a knack for saying, “yes, Lord” when I could not.
Kate became a teacher at George Watts Elementary and then transitioned to Lakewood Montessori Middle School in Durham’s Public Schools when we moved to Durham, NC for me to attend seminary. Kate paid our bills and provided for our family. She sacrificed much and worked hard. But she also worked really, really well too. She impacted the lives of countless students. Well, countless to me perhaps, but not to Kate. She could recite every single student she had if you were to ask her. And that’s what makes Kate such a tremendous teacher: she loves her students and respects them as people. When we visited a year after we returned to Indiana, I cautioned Kate not to set her hopes too high. Ever the wise one (read: arrogant one), I cautioned her: “A lot has changed since you left, I don’t want you to be disappointed.” Before we even entered the building, students were literally trying to climb out the window to see her. Even new students and teachers she’d never met came up to her to meet the one they’d been hearing about. I always shed a tear of joy when I look back on that day. Kate’s heart shined like the sun. I am so proud of my best friend, Kate.
I could go on and on, but I will conclude with one final story. Since moving to Indiana, Kate has transitioned from “teacher” to “mom.” It was our decision to have one of us stay at home with our children. We are fortunate to be able to do this and respect the ever-changing family dynamics of our time. We have many wonderful friends, who have even more wonderful families where both parents work, or dad says home, or the kids stay with grandparents. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and for us, during this season of life, Kate is sacrificing her teaching career to invest in our family. She is fiercely courageous in ways that I am not. I don’t think I could do what she does: choosing to leave a career she is outstanding at and loves, rearing our child with all the loving patience that requires, and her ability to not throw up when changing poopy diapers. I often wish that I could be more like Kate.
I look up to my best friend, Kate, and I so dearly admire her. I am so very proud of the person she has become and the woman she is becoming. She encourages me to be a better husband, father, and friend. For these reasons and countless more, I love you, my Katie, and I am so very, very proud of you.
Your husband and best friend,