Happy 22nd birthday, Erin!
This is my gift to you, a tribute to you, Erin, the truest of all friends. While I’m no Elton John who can conjure up heart-stirring lyrics or serenade you with a beautiful song written just for you (hopefully you recognize the reference to “Your Song”)—I realize that my greatest gift to you may be a written expression of my love & appreciation for the best friend you never fail to be.
For those of you reading & confused, this is Erin Beattie, my best friend. Actually, she’s not just my best friend but a true BFF to everyone she befriends, she just has that special quality. The one that naturally draws people in, instantly makes them feel at home–an openness that attracts those seeking advice, nurture, a listening ear or a comforting heart. With a heart bigger than her brain, and that’s saying something because she’s an actual genius (a Math major who graduated college with Honors); Erin is one of those rare people who acts out of love and selflessness.
We first met five years ago at the Governor’s Scholars Program where we shared one class but spent very little time together. We were acquaintances yet never had the chance, or maybe the desire, to become closer friends. Fast forward one year later, Erin & I ran into each other at an Honors College orientation at Western Kentucky University, giving each other a quick hug and a “Nice to see ya” we went our separate ways.
After leaving campus that day & deciding I would 100% be attending WKU in the fall, I felt an urge inside me to text Erin, not even knowing if I even had her phone number. Luckily, I did! I awkwardly sent her a message asking if she had decided on a roommate. We realized we were both going random & after asking several questions & discussing potential scenarios, we decided it could be fun to live together. I knew she wasn’t a psycho, an alcoholic, a kleptomaniac or any of the other drastic things I feared. There would be no expectations to maintain a close friendship since we hadn’t yet cultivated one nor did we know much about one another so there would still be that added element of surprise.
We texted back & forth through the summer & each time our conversations would begin to go beyond the surface, one of us would say, “It’s too much to explain over text, wait till we get to college and I’ll explain!” So, long before we ever moved into our first tiny dorm we had countless conversations brewing.
In August of 2011 we moved into Minton Hall at WKU, full of excitement, anxiety, confusion, & big dreams. The moment our parents got us situated & finally felt comfortable enough to leave (we basically kicked them out) (and, no, Dads, we don’t want bunkbeds!) we became instant best friends. In fact, over the next 2 (& a little) years of living together, I don’t think we ever stopped talking.
We needed each other in ways we never even knew. Both of us were at a crossroads spiritually– fragile & confused on the inside while each appearing strong & confident on the outside. We both struggled with perplexing anxiety that had been communicated to very few & understood by none… until then.
In the first few weeks of college we shared countless hearts to heart, lots of tears, laughter, digging deep into each others hearts & understanding the other person as if we had already been best friends for a lifetime. We experienced the crazy rush of falling in love for the first & only time, around the same time– Erin & Taylor had begun dating that summer and during our first week at WKU she introduced me to some of her friends from home, one of which was a super tall, shy, funny & definitely cute guy named Tyler Jenkins ❤
Almost daily we would discuss how clearly & obviously this friendship had been orchestrated by God. There were too many similarities, rare qualities we both possessed, for it to be a coincidence that we ended up together as roommates. I realized that Erin was a true life-long friend and even more, one of those rare “God-friends.” A friend to push me in my faith, hold me accountable, tell the honest truth– someone who I could/would always rely on, always trust, always laugh with, & always love.
When we first found out I was seriously ill, even before we knew what specifically was going on, Erin was a rock for me to rely on. Leaving me heartfelt notes in the room, sending comforting texts, making time to spend with me in the midst of her crazy schedule, & best of all, constantly rallying for me in prayer along with her family & those she trusted to sincerely pray.
Once we knew the official diagnosis & began preparing for my withdrawal at WKU & first surgery, Erin organized a surprise dinner on my behalf. She created a special scrapbook for me to take to the hospital for comfort, with pages filled with pictures & notes from all my school friends. I still look at that scrapbook often, & I cherish the quote on front which reads:
“Though miles lie between us, we’re never far apart… For friendship doesn’t count the miles. It’s measured by the heart.”
After living apart for nearly two years & being in a situation where our friendship has had to be very one-sided in terms of effort, communication, & visits, Erin has proven to be an even more amazing friend than I expected. And I had high expectations. It would have been so easy & even understandable for our friendship to slowly fizzle out with time & distance. The opposite has proven to be true with Erin. We have truly become that much closer as I continue to weather this storm with her firmly standing beside me.
Erin has come down into the valley with me, and because of that, I know someday we will rejoice together on the mountaintop.
Other than Tyler and of course my parents/brothers, Erin is that one person I can unconditionally count on. The friend I always knew would text my mom a hundred times a day through all the hospital stays, dying to know every single detail & itching to be there just to lay eyes on me. During hospital admissions my Mom would often check her phone then look at me and say, “Guess who?” Always always it was either Erin or Tyler.
And even through the times that I’ve been home yet too sick to text or look at my phone, I knew Erin would be sending countless texts just to let me know she was there, loving & praying from a distance, respecting my space & never holding it against me even when it would take me a week to respond.
She organized fundraisers to help with my medical bills, frequent visits to lie in my bed beside me & do most of the talking when I was unable, collected cards-gifts-encouraging notes from girls in the sorority, & so much more that I will never know.
Erin, it is my honor to have a best friend like you. Being your best friend is one of my favorite & most treasured aspects of this life. I will never have the words to fully express my gratitude to you for all that you’ve done & continue to do for not only me, but all those around you. Your heart, soul, spirit & smile are radiant. You’re a bright light in a world filled with darkness. Thank you for being YOU.
“Sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9
Happy birthday, Eri, love you with all my heart. Here’s to a lifetime full of sweet memories together!