Or should I say, hey 'Emily-Caribou-Customer.' Even though we've been friends now for three years, I still have your name in my phone using my contacts-cataloging system: First name, last name (if I know it yet), and brief description of how we met. I also have a Julia-Concordia University, Becky- Applebees, and a Thomas - Don't Answer. So.
For a long while I was completely unsure of how to spell your last name, and then we were deep in the friend zone so it was super awkward to ask. Next I felt too lazy to change it. But now, my keeping that your name is a very intentional choice. Let me explain.
Do you remember when we first met? I was working as resident barista at Caribou Coffee and you were stopping by for a white-mocha, probably during lunch break at your then job down the hill. At some point you became what we baristas like to call a 'regular.' A regular is someone who visits a coffee shop often enough that at least 75% of the staff can identify you with less that three descriptors. For you: Cute curly red hair, white-mocha, super friendly.
Notice, even from the beginning, friendly was what described you. And that's why I'm writing this letter.
You are, without question, one of the greatest friends I have had in my lifetime. Ever. If I'm honest, I don't think I realized this until we were pregnant together. After we moved past me making your coffee to having coffee together (we lack some venue creativity, I must say), I figured you would be a really nice acquaintance. But Em, you've proven to be so much more.
As our mutual friend Katie has said to me, 'Emily is more like Jesus than most people I know.' Which is ironic because you wouldn't consider yourself a Christian. But trust me, this is a high compliment.
From John 15: This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.
From Colossians 3: 12-14 Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Emily, I have watched you time, after time, after time, after time show myself and others such great compassion. You literally stop everything you are doing, often while pregnant and with a toddler, to drive across town to lend a hand. Bring food. Clothes. Coffee. Even when you're not asked you lay down the convenience of your life for the betterment of others. You find every opportunity to send a message or make a phone call, delivering advice, humor, and even just a sympathetic ear when we need it most. You put your life on the line for your friends. You're the first to show up and the last to leave. Your generosity is inspiring. You are an amazing friend. You love well.
I can see the way that your heart yearns for connectedness, and I love that you put forth so much to bring your friends together. All with a humility and grace I rarely get the chance to observe. I've literally never heard you brag or boast, and yet the words you speak to me are always encouraging and uplifting.
And beyond your amazing gift of friendship, you are generous. You are a beautiful example of motherhood. You are honest and wise and tender. You are, plainly and simply, good.
And, because I've seen you guide your family through some deeply difficult things, I know you are strong. I admire your strength.
I asked you today if I could write you a letter, and (in humility) you told me to do whatever I needed to do. Well, I needed to let you know how great a mark you've made upon my life, and how wonderful this friend thinks you are. My busyness is no excuse for not saying so sooner. I appreciate you so much, pray for you often, and love you a million.
With great sincerity,
Amanda - your personal barista