July 3rd, 2005:
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 17, scared, in a new place --- engaged to George, at a church that was unlike any that I had ever been to. The room was full of people that I didn't know, but somehow they all knew me. It was incredibly overwhelming. I was a lot more confident then, I guess. That Sunday at Westwood also happened to be the first Sunday of the Wakefield's (the new preacher and his family). I had no idea what a vital role they would come to play in our lives over these last 8 years. A few weeks ago, they announced they were moving (about 2 hours away)... so Greg can go after a dream that he's always had. Honestly, I'm happy for them --- and in lots of ways, I'm jealous! But I can't even think about them leaving without crying. Tonight our church held a going away party for them and we had a little "open mike" session. It was neat to hear people talk about them --- and I wanted to, because I have so much that I would like to say, but I'm a horrible speaker and I know I wouldn't have been able to get through it. SO, I decided to write it here.
Greg and Sandi,
I don't even know where to begin. Thank you so much for being a friend to us for all these years. I don't take those words lightly - you have been TRUE friends. Friends that I know, no matter what or when, you'd be there - not out of obligation, but out of love.
In a time where everyone in our lives was busy second-guessing our decision to tie the knot, you offered nothing but encouraging words and helpful suggestions. Neither of you ever tried to discourage us, not even once. On top of your loving kindness, Greg even did our pre-marriage counseling --- whether we were listening or not. As a young married girl, Sandi, you took me "under your wing" and you were my friend. You called me even if you were just running to the grocery store to see if I wanted to tag along --- and though I know that seemed insignificant to you, it was everything to me.
Four months later, when we found out Sarah Jane was on the way, you were some of the first people we told. 7 months later, you threw an awesome baby shower.
Sandi, I remember you calling to check on me at least once a week through that horrible pregnancy --- and even once holding the bathroom door shut for me at Ryan's while I puked my guts out. It's probably a little late, but thanks for that. :)
After SJ was born, I was having a hard time! --- I know all new moms go through that, but it's still hard. On a really glum day, I walked to the mailbox and was pleasantly suprised to find a letter with my name on it. Not just any letter though, a handmade letter from you (complete with little handmade purple flowers) --- and inside, it was full of encouraging, uplifting words. I read it standing in the driveway, and I cried all the way back to my door. I'm sure you don't even remember that, because that is just what you do, but it was exactly what I needed.
Greg, you were in the waiting room through the birth of both of our children - you'll never know what that means to us.
I can't even count how many meals the 4 of us have shared or conversations that lasted well past midnight -- laughs, tears, heartbreaks, joys. I treasure every. single. memory.
But, maybe, more than anything else - I have to say thank you for the constant faith that you both had in us, faith that you had from the very beginning that never waivered. It's no secret that George and I haven't had the perfect marriage --- but through it all, the WHOLE thing, the whole nasty mess --- the two of you never doubted us... even when it was ugly, really ugly.. I can still hear Greg saying "I know you guys will make it through this" and I can still see tears stream down Sandi's face when I decided to leave --- and I will never forget the outpouring of love from the two of you when we finally woke up and decided to take the steps to make it out of that incredibly dark place. Your marriage is an inspiration to ours - the example that you are is a blessing to us, and your friendship has been and will continue to be an incredible gift. To say "I'll miss you" is an understatement --- I really mean it when I say that I love you guys, for so many reasons.
You're, without question, two of the very best friends that we have ever had --- and from the very bottom of my heart, I wish you all the best of luck. If there have ever been two people that deserve all the happiness in the world - it is you.
All my love for all of you,